Summer 1982 • Vol. IV No. 3 Contemporary American PoetryJuly 1, 1982 |

The Reedbeds of the Hackensack

Scummed maunderings that nothing loves but reeds, Phragmites, neighbors of the greeny asphodel that thrive among the windings of the Hackensack, collaborating to subvert the altogether ugly if too down-to-earth to be quite fraudulent: what's landfill but the backside of civility? Dreckpot, the Styx and Malebolge of civility, brushed by the fingering plumes of beds of reeds: Manhattan's moat of stinks, the rancid asphodel aspiring from the gradually choking Hackensack, ring-ditch inferior to the vulgar, the snugly ugly, knows-no-better, fake but not quite fraudulent: what's scandal but the candor of the fraudulent? Miming the burnish of a manicured civility, the fluent purplings of uncultivated reeds, ex post cliché survivors like the asphodel, drink, as they did the Mincius, the Hackensack in absent-minded benediction on the merely ugly. Is there a poetry of the incorrigibly ugly, free of all furbishings that mark it fraudulent? When toxins of an up-against-the-wall civility hav

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In 1983, at the age of sixty-three, Amy Clampitt published her first full-length collection, The Kingfisher (Alfred A. Knopf). In the decade that followed, Clampitt published five books of poetry, including What the Light Was Like (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), Archaic Figure (Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), and Westward (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990). Her last book, A Silence Opens (Alfred A. Knopf), appeared in 1994. The recipient in 1982 of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1984 of an Academy Fellowship, she was made a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 1992.

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