Clark Coolidge, the prolific experimental poet and sometime jazz percussionist whose work is closely associated with both the second generation of the New York School of poets and the subsequent Language movement of poets and writers that followed them, will read from his work tonight at 8 p.m. in the first event of Just Buffalo's new Studio Reading Series. The event will take place at the organization's recently-redesigned Just Buffalo Writing Center on the second floor of 468 Washington Street (at Mohawk Street), just above the Western New York Book Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.
Coolidge, an influential figure in American poetry and poetics since the early 1960's, is the author of over 40 books, most recently "This Time We Are Both" (Ugly Duckling Press, 2010), "Book Beginning What and Ending Away" (Fence Books, 2013) and "88 Sonnets" (Fence Books, 2013).
While his early work began in variations on visual and concrete poetry, Coolidge has become best known for his linguistic disjunctions and assemblage of experimental soundscapes, both on the syntactic and the syllabic level. Much of his work in the 1970's and early 1980's (including "Book Beginning What and Ending Away," which was written between 1973 and 1981), involves phrase and syllable clipping done almost in the way a jazz musician might, experimenting with rhythm and the other elements of prosody to explore both the both the sonic possibilities of language, and the vestigial remnants of meaning that persist in poetic form.
“Words have a universe of qualities other than those of descriptive relation: Hardness, Density, Sound-Shape, Vector-Force, & Degrees of Transparency/Opacity,” Coolidge wrote in an early statement of his poetics written in 1968, and over the last six decades, in books like "Sound as Thought: Poems 1982-1984" (Sun & Moon Press, 1990), "The ROVA Improvisations" (Sun & Moon, 1994), and "Alien Tatters" (Atelos, 2000), he has been at the forefront of poets and artists exploring that universe.