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This article is taken from PN Review 256, Volume 47 Number 2, November - December 2020.

Thomas A. Clark: Into actual space Matthew Welton
In June 2017 I approached Carcanet with the idea of producing a volume of Selected Poems by Thomas A. Clark. The process of putting the book together has involved going through dozens of pamphlets, cards and other small paper objects mostly published by Clark’s own Moschatel press. The aim has been to create something that, in the context of a bound book of around two hundred pages, will serve the poems as sympathetically as those original publications.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the poetry of Thomas A. Clark is its aesthetic. Clark’s poetry is recognizable for its simplicity, quietness and attention, and these values are present both in what the poems are saying, and in the way it is said. Most of the poems in the volume of selected poems, The Threadbare Coat, were first published by Moschatel, the small press Clark and his wife, the artist Laurie Clark, set up in 1973. In the original editions, the aesthetic goes even further, and presentation becomes an aspect of the form.

Each Moschatel publication usually features a single poem. In some instances the poem is very short – some poems have only a few lines, and some have only one line. In the poems that break down into stanzas, each stanza usually has a page to itself, even if that means two lines to a page. Some of the shorter poems are presented on a single sheet of card, around the size of a postcard. Sometimes that sheet is folded, like a birthday card, which, importantly, allows ...


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