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Amy Clampitt Biography

(1920–94), Multitudes, Multitudes, The Kingfisher, What the Light Was Like, Archaic Figure, Westward

multitudes american natural

American poet, born into a Quaker family at New Providence, Iowa; she was educated at Grinnell College, and spent much of her working life in New York publishing. Her writing has been a case of spectacular late development: Multitudes, Multitudes appeared in 1974, and she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1982. Clampitt's breakthrough came with The Kingfisher (1983), which won extravagant praise for its striking descriptions of natural phenomena (‘Sea Mouse’, ‘Lindenbloom’, ‘The Sun Underfoot Amongst the Sundews’), its sumptuously literary language bringing comparisons with Hopkins, Dylan Thomas, and Marianne Moore. Her poems often involve journeys, classical myth, images of femaleness (as in ‘A Procession at Candlemas’), and a sense of the natural world as numinous. What the Light Was Like (1985) exemplifies Clampitt's attachment to English and American landscape, and Romantic poets such as Keats. Archaic Figure (1987) favours a generally simpler, less cluttered diction to portray travels in Greece and Venice, and the lives of women writers. Westward (1991) concerns migrations: of peoples and lifestyles, plants and birds, across America.

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