When Amy Clampitt’s first collection, The Kingfisher, was published, it was hailed as that rare first book that “signals a major poet in full bloom” (Los Angeles Times). Its author was sixty-three years old. Over the next eleven years, Clampitt produced four additional, major collections. Now, the most essential poems from these five volumes are gathered together.
Clampitt was an impassioned observer of the natural world, the delights of which color many of these poems: writing of the fog, she described “a stuff so single / it might almost be lifted, / folded over, crawled underneath / or slid between, as nakedness- / caressingsheets.” Such was the texture of her language, too. She was a traveler, reporting back from England and Greece, from California and Maine, and from her native Midwest. An Iowa transplant to New York, the descendant of pioneers, she wrote of prairies and subways; of the movements of wildflowers, people, and ideas; and of the widespread modern experience of uprootedness.
Here is a treasure of Amy Clampitt’s verse, for those who are reading her for the first time, as well as for those who have long admired her.