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Amy Clampitt

Amy Clampitt

Clampitt, Amy, 1920-94, American poet, b. New Providence, Iowa. A librarian and editor, she wrote little until the 1960s. Her first major magazine publication was in 1974, and her first commercially published volume of poems, The Kingfisher (1983), appeared when she was 63. Later volumes are What the Light Was Like (1985), Archaic Figure (1987), Westward (1990), and A Silence Opens (1994). Clampitt's collected poems appeared in 1997. Her densely ornate and richly allusive verse is often elegiac in tone, and much of her best work concerns the natural world. She also published an essay collection, Predecessors, et Cetera (1990).

See her selected letters, ed. by W. Spiegelman (2005).

Amy Clampitt (June 15, 1920 - September 10, 1994) was an American poet and author.


Amy Clampitt was born on June 15, 1920 of Quaker parents, and brought up in New Providence, Iowa. In the American Academy of Arts and Letters and at nearby Grinnell College she began a study of English literature that eventually led her to poetry. She graduated from Grinnell College, and from that time on lived mainly in New York City. To support herself, she worked as a secretary at the Oxford University Press, a reference librarian at the Audubon Society, and a freelance editor. Not until the mid-1960s, when she was in her forties, did she return to writing poetry. Her first poem was published by The New Yorker in 1978. In 1983, at the age of sixty-three, she published her first full-length collection, The Kingfisher. In the decade that followed, Clampitt published five books of poetry, including What the Light Was Like (1985), Archaic Figure (1987), and Westward (1990). Her last book, A Silence Opens, appeared in 1994. She also published a book of essays and several privately printed editions of her longer poems. She was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and taught at the College of William and Mary, Smith College, and Amherst College, but it was her time spent in Manhattan, in a remote part of Maine, and on various trips to Europe, the former Soviet Union, Iowa, Wales, and England that most directly influenced her work. Clampitt was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship (1992), and she was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Poets. She died of cancer in September, 1994.


Poetry collections

  • Multitudes, Multitudes (Washington Street Press, 1973).
  • The Summer Solstice (Sarabande Press, 1983).
  • The Kingfisher (Knopf, 1983). ISBN 0-394-52840-9.
  • What the Light Was Like (Knopf, 1983). ISBN 0-394-54318-1.
  • Archaic Figure (Knopf, 1987). ISBN 0-394-75090-X.
  • Westward (Knopf, 1990). ISBN 0-394-58455-4.
  • Manhattan: An Elegy, and Other Poems (University of Iowa Center for the Book, 1990).
  • A Silence Opens (Knopf, 1994). ISBN 0-679-75022-3.
  • The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt (Knopf, 1997). ISBN 0-375-70064-1.


  • A Homage to John Keats (Sarabande Press, 1984).
  • The Essential Donne (Ecco Press, 1988). ISBN 0-88001-480-6.
  • Predecessors, Et Cetera: Essays (University of Michigan Press, 1991). ISBN 0-472-06457-6.


External links

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