Tom Clark, born in Chicago in 1941, is an American poet, editor and biographer. He was educated at the University of Michigan where he received a Hopwood Award for poetry and it was here that his interest in poetry blossomed. He lists his early influences as Rilke, Wallace Stevens, Theodore Rothke, and Boris Pasternak.
However, the contemporary academic poets he met at that time failed to impress him, later causing him to reject the chance to become “a university poet . . . thus irrevocably exiting, with a headstrong lack of foresight surely to be regretted, the moving staircase of academic poetry-careering.”
Taking an advanced degree at Cambridge, Clark became strongly influenced by the work of Ezra Pound. While in England, he hitchhiked around the country with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, and gave readings and associated with other writers such as Robert Graves, Gregory Corso, Andrei Voznesensky, and Adrian Mitchell
He served as poetry editor of The Paris Review from 1963 to 1973 and published numerous volumes of poetry with Black Sparrow Press, including a verse biography: Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats (1994). Many of Clark’s poems are concerned with the state of contemporary America. His literary essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Times Literary Supplement, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, London Review of Books, and many other journals; some of his essays on contemporary poetry have been collected in The Poetry Beat: Reviewing the Eighties.
From 1987 to 2008 he taught Poetics at New College of California and he remains an active writer producing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
The above has been extracted from a combination of:
Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats
by Tom Clark
The brief life of John Keats––the suffering of the immortal artist who dies young, whose glory is written in the stars and yet whose entry in the Book of Life is “writ in water”––is the stuff of Romantic myth. “Junkets on a Sad Planet,” writes Tom Clark in his notes on this remarkably original book, “is an extended reflection on the fable of the modern poet’s life as Keats lived it.” Written in a series of blank-verse poems interspersed with fictional “letters” by Keats and by members of his circle, the book may be read in turns as a poetic novel, a biography in verse, an allegorical masque, and a historical oratorio for several voices. Anyone who loves Keats’s poetry and letters will be stunned: “Clark captures the essence of the poet’s style and spirit in a minimum of elegant and haunting words” (Los Angeles Times).