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« ONE WEDDING AND A FUNERAL: HOW THE SHOW MUST GO ON [by Jeanne McCulloch] | Main | Tom Clark, Reverdy, and Pere-Lachaise in the fog [by David Lehman] »

August 19, 2018


I'm very glad to meet Tom Clark. It's never too late to join his club. More people will know him than did before. Something makes me feel he's just beginning to be known.

best tribute to Tom I've seen, thank you Terence

Thanks for this. He was one of our best writers. I'll miss him.

You're welcome.

Thanks, Michael.

I hope you're right, Grace.

What a shock. He meant a lot to me, too. I always went back to him, and within the past two weeks, I had read his SLEEPWALKER'S FATE: NEW AND SLECTED POEMS, 1965-1991, again. My favorite book of his poetry, though, was LIKE REAL PEOPLE, from Black Sparrow Press. In that one, he squarely dug into his Irishness and he had those Chicago Irish relative cops on the cover. And I could never figure out why those Charles Olson scholars went crazy mad about his book on Olson. I carried the hardback around Ireland in 1999 during my honeymoon. It's still my favorite biography about Olson. Finally, it fills me with sadness that he died in Northern California. As a native of the state who long ago escaped, I wish he would have gotten out too. It's all just too much now. So, as they say, "May God have mercy on his immortal soul and let perpetual light shine upon him." He certainly was an original of the highest caliber.

Thanks, Lawrence. I'm not sure if TC had sufficient resources (in terms of money & health) to move. Or maybe he was in his own way comfortable there, however much he railed against the traffic.

Of course. Yes. No matter. For what it's worth, I prayed deeply last night for him, and then I held a ceremony where I asked the spirits to look over him as he finds his way on his new journey. At this point in my life, I don't know what else to do. Since my mom was born in 1917 in Ireland, she went to a couple of serious, old-school wakes in Nenagh, County Tipperary. From the time I was a young boy, I listened with fascination about the ins and outs of those ceremonies. Without question, Tom Clark needs a wake. In my own way, so far out here in West Texas, I started one for him last night. Rest easy, Tom. Many blessings now for your new travels. We'll all keep reading your work. And thanks, TW, for your great work and all that you do.

Our lyrical blogger and best Night Watchman. From my Bolinas archive of many years ago, I can close my eyes and see him still running the summer roads up to Pt. Reyes. Michael Wolfe

Thank you, Terence. I am a great admirer of Tom Clark's work from way back in the day, as you know. I admired him very much as a person, too. He was a very generous man with an extensive knowledge of the work of his peers, which he valued tremendously. And I have deep nostalgia for the days long ago when it seemed to me (and to others) that Ted Berrigan, Ron Padgett and Tom Clark were the holy trinity of contemporary American poetry. My own love of his work might be measured by the fact that I've received more copies of his books as birthday presents than those by any other poet. I am hugely saddened by his passing. So, I share you sorrow at the loss of Tom. We always knew that these days were coming, but that is no help at all. Thank you for your perfect tribute.

Doug: Very good to have your voice added here. Thanks.

This was stunning. Tom Clark has been my literary companion for the last 36 years. I discovered him, actually, through his baseball poems( a shared love) . His versatility astounded me, frankly. Olson, Keats, Ed Dorn , Kerouac,the Oakland A's , Ritsos , he was rather remarkable in his breath. I cherish his books, am saddened by his death, and will pray for his family and for the driver.

Thanks for your comment, Patrick.

I share the deep sadness expressed elsewhere here over the sudden loss of Tom Clark, a wonderful poet of far-reaching wit, insight, and curiosity. A poem I particularly admire from Tom is "Baseball and Classicism" (pasted below). As a native Philadelphian and formerly ardent Phillies fan, I recall through my late father's vivid, first-hand description (he was at Shibe Park with my grandfather) how New York Yankees pitcher Vic Raschi, nicknamed the "Springfield Rifle," pitched all nine innings in mowing down my Phillies for a two-hit shutout victory, 1-0, in the opening game of the 1950 World Series. The Yanks ended up beating the Phillies in four straight games. Tom Clark would probably have known all that. Eurydice would have known it too: going 5 for 5 against Raschi is no mean feat. As a poet, Tom Clark had a blazing fastball, wicked slider, and jaw-dropping change-up. I love swinging at his verse. Take a swing below.

by Tom Clark

Every day I peruse the box scores for hours
Sometimes I wonder why I do it
Since I am not going to take a test on it
And no one is going to give me money

The pleasure’s something like that of codes
Of deciphering an ancient alphabet say
So as brightly to picturize Eurydice
In the Elysian Fields on her perfect day

The day she went 5 for 5 against Vic Raschi

Thanks for this comment, Earle.

In my previous comment I forgot to commend you, Terence, for a great BAP blog post on Tom Clark. All your BAP posts are fascinating.

You still need to publish a "new and selected" volume, Terence. Tom Clark published at least two.

Thanks, Earle. I thought I had already responded to your comment, but Typepad may have made it disappear. As to a selected poems, I'd love for that to happen. Maybe someday.

On page A20 in the New York edition of THE NEW YORK TIMES dated August 26, 2018, Richard Sandomir wrote this 29-paragraph obituary for Tom Clark that included two excerpts from his verse and was accompanied by photos of Tom in 1972, his volume FRACTURED KARMA, and his "new and selected" volume LIGHT & SHADE. Click on this:

The NYT obit ends with a few lines from his poem "Nocturnal Resolutions" that start with this one: "Stop suffering fools." No three words were ever more needed than they are right now.

Thanks, Tom, for reminding us of that, and this: a good poem never stops arriving.

Thanks for alerting us to this NYT obit, Earle.

Normally I don't allow my comments to form a loose, ultimately fraying string, but I had to add this click-on:

It's THE PARIS REVIEW remembering Tom Clark, who for several years was its poetry editor. The remembrance includes a great anecdote from Malanga about the provenance of the wedding ring worn by Tom in that 1972 photo.

See what you've sparked, Terence?

I'm glad you did.

Thank you all for remembrances. I have been searching for a poem by Tom Clark that I cannot for the life of me find. I copied it years ago and had it on the wall. It went something like:

No one hears
the insane screaming noise
stars make
while drowning their aloneness
in the high of
the truly deep

I have scoured some collections of his poems to no avail Does anyone know that poem, or am I confused (more than I admit)?

Anita: I don't know the poem offhand, sorry to say. Here's a link to a cluster
of Tom's poems, some of which include star imagery:
Good luck on your hunt.

Anita, like Terence I don't know the poem you have in mind, but here is another winner by Tom:

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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