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This interview is taken from PN Review 229, Volume 42 Number 5, May - June 2016.

talks to Thomas A Clark

In, Among, with and From
Alice Tarbuck
In Conversation with Thomas A Clark

Holderline's shopping bag

Thomas A Clark, Hölderlin's Shopping Bag (2014)

You have described your work as being engaged with ‘fields of enquiry’. These fields, to my eye, are usually formal, rather than thematic. What are your current ‘fields of enquiry’?

Well, I hope that they are both, since a poem is a braid of form and content. I suppose that I tend to think of the poem as an heuristic device, a question you can ask of the world, or a patch pegged out for closer examination.

We are all familiar with the experience of going for a walk but carrying all the usual baggage along with us. The poem can be one means of assuming responsibility, a commitment that you will stay alert to what is going on, outside and inside the poem.

I don’t know that my ‘field of enquiry’ has changed so much, but ‘enquiry’ may be too solemn. ‘Curiosity’ may be a lighter way to think of it. For me, curiosity is inseparable from the impulse to make.

In a 1983 work, Three Triolets, you visually delineate the structure of a triolet using coloured lines instead of words. The relationship between visuality and poetic form is central to your work – how would you describe that relationship and its evolution?

The first Moschatel publications were printed letter-press and for years we worked with just two typefaces, Bembo and Gill Sans. It ...

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