cover image Light & Shade: New and Selected Poems

Light & Shade: New and Selected Poems

Tom Clark, . . Coffee House, $20 (338pp) ISBN 978-1-56689-183-7

Disarmingly casual yet saturated with loss, Clark's body of work revels in simplicities: lovers, friends, cities and landscapes (New York, Southern California, the Southwest), baseball, basketball, modern painters, sad weather, brief visions and ethereal promises. All make repeat appearances in a poetry rooted at once in spontaneity and in High Romantic aspiration. A rising star in the 1960s (when he served as poetry editor for the Paris Review ), Clark is optimistic, even mystical, in his first books, then got quieter and gloomier later, crafting a tired, even baffled poetry to suit what one poem calls his "New West," where "The poor remedy of days can't ease us," and "places sometimes speak to you most deeply/ Just when you are about to leave." Late work looks over and over at the mood of the moment, even at the weather, watching gray and white fog or clear skies "While everything external/ dies away in the far off/ echo of the soul." (Apr.)