Amy Clampitt

(15 June 1920 - 10 September 1994 / New Providence, Iowa)

Biography of Amy Clampitt

Amy Clampitt poet

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:

Poetry Collections

Multitudes, Multitudes (1973)
The Summer Solstice (1983)
The Kingfisher (1983)
What the Light Was Like (1983)
Archaic Figure (1987)
Westward (1990)
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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Gradual Clearing

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

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