Amy Clampitt (1920-1994) was perhaps unique among 20th century American poets. She was always a writer, from childhood on, but she achieved neither publication nor fame until her sixth decade – the Patron Saint of Late Bloomers, if you will. Born to a Quaker family, and raised on a farm in central Iowa, she was a bookish, eccentric child who, following graduation from Grinnell College in 1941, made a bee-line to Manhattan, where she lived in total obscurity until her first poem was published, in The New Yorker of all places, in 1978. In the last fifteen years of her life, she enjoyed extraordinary popularity, winning accolades and prizes, and writing in a style that went again all the popular tastes of the time.

In his recent biography of Clampitt, Nothing Stays Put, Spiegelman tries to put her life and poetry in order, and to explain how and why she returned to poetry slowly, having tried for decades to write fiction, a genre for which she had little talent. She was a born writer, but she had to make herself a poet after years of self-delusion and false starts.
Date: 26 October 2023, 17:00 (Thursday, 3rd week, Michaelmas 2023)
Venue: RAI Seminar Room
Speaker: Willard Speigelman
Part of: American Literature Research Seminar
Booking required?: Not required
Audience: Members of the University only
Editor: Katy Terry