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88 Sonnets

Clark Coolidge

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Fence Books
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"Clark Coolidge is a one-man avant-garde."--Peter Gizzi

Clark Coolidge's embrace of the sonnet form is a gemlike amalgam of narrative urge, wacky name-dropping, and pure visuality. Coolidge's legendary proliferation--as many as ten sonnets in a single day--marries the stunning variety of his intellect on the mountaintop of formal inquiry.


So slow death oft the onyx dolls
each in its own lab colors rollicking encores
who's there? do you want your museum
room infiltrated? only the singing parts
terrible loss of air raid powder
entanglements poled on kapok
the last to be heard? this ploy of dolls
irradiated heads and curls of coffin wood
death is always plural here? stolid
anyway someway still enters the frontway
through the water door to Manikin Lake
the throttles held down there you went to
hair school against my wisdom thus the
remnants spelled out there then coded there

Clark Coolidge was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Though associated with the Language Poets, his work predates the movement and despite close contact with many of them he remains distinct from any movement, literary or political. The author of more than twenty books of verse and prose, he is also the editor of Philip Guston: Collected Writings, Lectures, and Conversations.