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Clark Coolidge Biography

(1939– ), Baffling Means, At Egypt, Space, Polaroid, Quartz Hearts

primary language literary movement

American poet, born in Providence, Rhode Island. Though associated with the Language Poets, his work predates the movement and despite close contact with many of them he remains distinct from any movement, literary or political. His primary literary influences are Rilke, Beckett, and Kerouac, but jazz, geology, and painting (he wrote a collaborative work with the painter Philip Guston: Baffling Means, 1991) also play a large part. This poetic purist shares with many avant-garde artists of the 1950s and 1960s the belief that art is discovery, and so creates an exploratory ‘improvisational momentum’ in its composition which aims to ‘tell the story that has never been thought before’ in a writing which is itself the primary focus, rather than its subject matter. He is a consummate verbal musician, whose enormously inventive combinations of words, images, and objects not only explore the workings of language but suggest new forms of experience. At Egypt (1988) is a dense, vital work which observes both tourist and country with great wit and variety, constantly questioning itself as it takes on surprisingly Romantic themes such as the relations between mortality and representation. Other works include Space (1970), Polaroid (1975), Quartz Hearts (1978), Mine: The One that Enters the Stories (1982), The Crystal Text (1986), and Odes of Roba (1991).

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