Biography of Amy Clampitt
Amy Clampitt was born on June 15, 1920, and brought up in New Providence, Iowa. She wrote poetry in high school, but then ceased and focused her energies on writing fiction instead. She graduated from Grinnell College, and from that time on lived mainly in New York City. To support herself, she worked as a secretary at the Oxford University Press, a reference librarian at the Audubon Society, and a freelance editor.
Not until the mid-1960s, when she was in her forties, did she return to writing poetry. Her first poem was published by The New Yorker in 1978. In 1983, at the age of sixty-three, she published her first full-length collection, The Kingfisher.
In the decade that followed, Clampitt published five books of poetry, including What the Light Was Like (1985), Archaic Figure (1987), and Westward (1990). Her last book, A Silence Opens, appeared in 1994. The recipient in 1982 of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1984 of an Academy Fellowship, she was made a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 1992. She was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and taught at the College of William and Mary, Amherst College, and Smith College. She died of cancer in September 1994.
Amy Clampitt's Works:
Multitudes, Multitudes (1973)
The Summer Solstice (1983)
The Kingfisher (1983)
What the Light Was Like (1983)
Archaic Figure (1987)
Manhattan: An Elegy, and Other Poems (1990)
A Silence Opens (1994)
The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt (1997)
A Homage to John Keats (Sarabande Press, 1984)
The Essential Donne (Ecco Press, 1988)
Predecessors, Et Cetera: Essays (University of Michigan Press, 1991)
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Amy Clampitt Poems
While you walk the water's edge, turning over concepts I can't envision, the honking buoy serves notice that at any time
Like the foghorn that's all lung, the wind chime that's all percussion, like the wind itself, that's merely air in a terrible fret, without so much
Vacant Lot With Pokeweed
Tufts, follicles, grubstake biennial rosettes, a low- life beach-blond scruff of couch grass: notwithstanding
A vagueness comes over everything, as though proving color and contour alike dispensable: the lighthouse extinct, the islands' spruce-tips
past parentage or gender beyond sung vocables the slipped-between the so infinitesimal
Nothing Stays Put
In memory of Father Flye, 1884-1985 The strange and wonderful are too much with us.
On The Disadvantages Of Central Heating
cold nights on the farm, a sock-shod stove-warmed flatiron slid under the covers, mornings a damascene- sealed bizarrerie of fernwork
Lost aboard the roll of Kodac- olor that was to have super- seded all need to remember Somerset were: a large flock
A Hermit Thrush
Nothing's certain. Crossing, on this longest day, the low-tide-uncovered isthmus, scrambling up the scree-slope of what at high tide will be again an island,
A Catalpa Tree On West Twelfth Street
While the sun stops, or seems to, to define a term for the indeterminable, the human aspect, here
The Sun Underfoot Among The Sundews
An ingenuity too astonishing to be quite fortuitous is this bog full of sundews, sphagnum- lines and shaped like a teacup.
a stone at dawn cold water in the basin these walls' rough plaster imageless
A Hedge Of Rubber Trees
The West Village by then was changing; before long the rundown brownstones at its farthest edge would have slipped into trendier hands. She lived, impervious to trends, behind a potted hedge of
Daily the cortege of crumpled defunct cars goes by by the lasagna- layered flatbed
Late in the day the fog
wrung itself out like a sponge
in glades of rain,
sieving the half-invisible
cove with speartips;
then, in a lifting
of wisps and scarves, of smoke-rings
from about the islands, disclosing
what had been wavering