Disordered Ideas

Tom Clark describes himself as an artist “living along the inter-dimensional rift zone of a society caught between its future in the realm of electronic magic and its past in the spell-casting of the caves.” In Disordered Ideas, his poetry is like an exquisitely sensitive seismograph: the needle jumps across the page, making a manic record of every quake, slip, and near-disaster along the postmodern-communications fault line. He derides the new media, the isolating, enervating “brave new work” we do in front of computer screens, and the death of the personal in the digital age. Indeed, the only digits he has any use for are the five that make up the human hand: he revels in man-made artifacts, especially paintings and stories and poems. His topical verse is satiric and humorous, but when he writes about what he admires—the canvases of Caspar David Friedrich, the renunciations of Rimbaud, the political aphorisms of Brecht–“his poems can seize the heart” (Anselm Hollo).

Clark is a poet in complete command of his talents. . . . He strums the language, eliciting some beautiful and startling imagery. His voice is pliant but his vision is unbending.
––San Francisco Chronicle

Tom Clark was the poetry editor of The Paris Review from 1963 to 1973, one of the prestigious journal’s most important decades. He published his own collections of poetry exclusively with Black Sparrow Press. His numerous literary essays and reviews have appeared in publications  including The New York Times, London Review of Books, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. He has also published six biographies of twentieth-century literary figures. Clark died in Berkeley, California, in 2018.