February 24, 2013

Clark Coolidge

Clark Coolidge [USA]

Poet Clark Coolidge was born on February 26, 1939 in Providence, Rhode Island. As a young he attended Classical High school, with four years of Latin before attending Brown University,  where his father was a professor in the music department. Coolidge majored in Geology.

     In 1958 he hitch-hiked to Los Angeles, reading Jack Kerouac and Thomaas Wolfe. Later that year and into the next, he lived in the Village (on Horatio Street) and began writing.

     The next year the young poet returned to Providence, performing as jazz drummer with Buell Niedlinger. He also met-poet publisher Jonathan Williams, with whom he shared an interest in the writer H. P. Lovecraft.

     In 1962 he married Toni Carbo, who worked at the Brown University Library. Coolidge also began experimenting with cut-ups and chance generated poems. The next summer he attended a summer poetry seminar at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, meeting Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan, and Phillip Whalen. There is also met Michael Paler, with whom, in 1964, he would edit until 1966 Joglars magazine. That same year, he met Louis Zukofsky. The following year he attended a Conference on Little Magazines at the Library of Congress, where he met poet and editor, Aram Saroyan, who later became a close friend.

     When he marriage broke up in 1966, he moved to New York again, living near Saroyan who published, on his Lines Books, Coolidge’s first publication, Flag Flutter & U.S. Electric. That same year, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, sharing a house with Saroyan.

     The next April, Coolidge moved to San Francisco, joining David Meltzer’s Serpent Power band. In Decemeber of 1967 he married Susan Hopkins. Their daughter Ceclia Elizabeth was born the following year. He also met Bernadette Mayer and the artist Philip Guston, both of whom would become close friends.

    During 1969-1970 Coolidge produced a weekly poetry show, WORDS, for KPFA in Berkeley and made word-tapes at Mills College Tape Center.

     Later that year Coolidge and his wife moved to Hancock, Massachusetts in the Berkshire Hills, where they lived until 1997. Meanwhile, his third book publication, Space, was printed by the prestigious commercial press, Harper that same year.

      Over the next four decades the poet published dozens of volumes on a regular basis, while editing collections and writing essays on poetry, jazz, and art (on and with Philip Guston). He also traveled extensively to the Galapagos Islands, Egypt, Paris, and, in 1989, along with the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Lyn Hejinian, and Douglas Messerli, to the Soviet Union and the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Since there he has read in both Scandinavia and Russia, London, and Berlin.

     In 1997 Clark and Susan moved to Petaluma, California.


Flag Flutter and U.S. Electric
(New York: Lines Books, 1966); Space (New York: Harper & Row, 1970); The So: Poems 1966 (New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1971); Suite V (New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1973); The Maintains (San Francisco: This Press, 1974); Polaroid (New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1975); Quarts Hearts (San Francisco: This Press, 1978); Own Face (Lenox, Massachusetts: Angel Hair Books, 1978; reprinted (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1993); Smithsonian Depositions and Subject to a Film (New York: Vehicle Editions, 1980); A Geology (Needham, Massachusetts: Potes and Poets Press, 1981, 1988, 1999); Research (Berkeley, California: Tuumba Press, 1982); Mine: The One that Enters the Stories (Berkeley, California: The Figures, 1982); Solution Passage: Poems1978-1981 (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1986; reprinted in Green Integer ON NET [PDF file], 2013); The Crystal Text (Great Barrington, Massachsetts: The Figures, 1986; reprinted (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1995); Melencholia (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1987); At Egypt (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1983); Sound as Thought: Poems 1982-1984 (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1990); Supernatural Overtones (with Ron Padgett) (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1990); Odes of Roba (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1991); The Book of During (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1991); Bafflilng Means: Writings/Drawings (with Philip Guston) (Stockbridge, Massachusetts: O-blek Editions, 1991); Lowell Connector: Lines and Shots from Kerouac’s Town (with Michael Gizzi and John Yau) (Stockbridge, Massachusetss: Hard Press, 1993); On the Pumice of Morons (with Larry Fagin) (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1993); The ROVA Improvisations (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1994); Registers (People in All) (Bolinas, California: Avenue B, 1994); For Kurt Cobin (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 1995); Keys to the Caverns (Gran Canaria, Canary Islands: Zasterle Press, 1995); The Names (Brightlingsea, Essex, England: Active in Airtime, 1997); Now It’s Jazz: Writings on Kerouac and The Sounds (Albuquerque: Living Batch, 1999); Alien Tatters (Berkeley, California: Atelos, 2000); On the Nameways, Volumne 1 (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 2000); Far Out West: On the Nameways, Volume 2 (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 2001); On the Slates (Oakland, California: Tougher Disguises, 2002); Counting on Planet Zero (Wendell, Massachusetts: Fewer and Further Press, 2007); The Act of Providence (Qua Press, 2010); This Time We Are Both (Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Press, 2010);
Clark Coolidge, A Book Beginning What and Ending Away [with essays by Tom Orange and Kit Robinson] (Albany, New York: Fence Books, 2012)

For numerous audio recordings of Clark Coolidge reading, click here:

The So Gone

The room sounds like a stun
the window shone.
The petals are missing this felt dry sky.
Dun day. Mister warblilngs.
Crease bunch bricked to the ankles.
I write stormings. Visors for fenders.
The alkali in the moot tip pending.
Slant the tree among its polish.
Twine rum at ankle tub. Balloons
to the shed thud. The bark is parting
a mackerel and lodged much cheese.
A submarie trouser warning, of so's
to be got brought. A cherry filminess
the ridge will edge with the mattress molding.
Bulk. Day gone room for the end.

(from Own Face, 1978, 1993)

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