Puget Sound English Department

June 15, 2009

Happy Birthday to Amy Clampitt

Filed under: Creative Writing,Literature — ATH @ 6:00 am

American poet Amy Clampitt was born in Iowa on June 15, 1920 to Quaker parents. Her poetry is known for its political and ecological engagement, and it spans the urban and the rural, the erudite and the mundane. A latecomer to the literary game, Clampitt gave up writing poetry after high school and only returned to it in her 40s, publishing her first full-length book of poems at the age of 63. She died in 1994.

Her official website, including information on the residency award established in her name, is here.

Here’s a link to both text and audio files of “Urn-Burial and the Butterly Migration”.

Here’s a short excerpt, also from her main site; the full text can be found here: “BEACH GLASS”

While you walk the water’s edge,
turning over concepts
I can’t envision, the honking buoy
serves notice that at any time
the wind may change,
the reef-bell clatters
its treble monotone, deaf as Cassandra
to any note but warning. The ocean,
cumbered by no business more urgent
than keeping open old accounts
that never balanced,
goes on shuffling its millenniums
of quartz, granite, and basalt.


The process
goes on forever: they came from sand,
they go back to gravel,
along with the treasuries
of Murano, the buttressed
astonishments of Chartres,
which even now are readying
for being turned over and over as gravely
and gradually as an intellect
engaged in the hazardous
redefinition of structures
no one has yet looked at.


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