Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Selected Poems

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Selected Poems

by Amy Clampitt

Selected Poems by Amy Clampitt
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    Oct 2010, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

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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 published a small volume of poetry titled Multitudes, Multitudes; thereafter her work appeared frequently in The New Yorker. It was not until the publication of The Kingfisher, however, when Clampitt was sixty-three years old, that her work received significant attention. In the decade that followed, she published four more books of poetry: What the Light Was Like (1985), Archaic Figure (1987), Westward (1990), and A Silence Opens (1994).

The recipient a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982, and an Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1984, she was made a MacArthur Prize Fellow in 1992. She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a Writer in Residence at the College of William and Mary, Visiting Writer at Amherst College, and Grace Hazard Conkling Visiting Writer at Smith College. She died of ovarian cancer in September 1994. Her husband, Harold Korn, died in March 2001. Korn's estate established The Amy Clampitt Fund, which offers 6 to 12 month residencies for poets and poetry scholars at the house Clampitt bought in the Berkshires with part of her MacArthur award.

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Article by Marnie Colton

This article is from the November 17, 2010 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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