In his landmark book Ways of Seeing, art critic John Berger wrote "It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled." While this may be true, Amy Clampitt relished the chance to bridge the gap between seeing and knowing, not to "settle" that relationship but to reveal the immense power that words have to create the world instead of merely explaining it. Seeing, for Clampitt, encompassed all five senses: her poems, like the flora she loved so much, run rampant with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures, and a rich harvest awaits anyone who delves into this selection of her best work.
Although her first full-length collection, The Kingfisher
, wasn't published until she was 63,...
Beyond the Book
About Amy Clampitt
Upon publication of her book of poems The Kingfisher
in 1983, Amy Clampitt became one of the most highly regarded poets in America. Born in 1920 to Quaker parents and raised on a farm in rural Iowa, she graduated from Grinnell College, and from that time on lived mainly in New York City, later studying at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Clampitt worked as a secretary at Oxford University Press, as a librarian at The Audubon Society, and as a freelance editor while she attempted unsuccessfully to write novels. In the 1960s she turned her attention to poetry, and in 1974 she...