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Clemens Starck and Barbara Drake: New Poems
February 15, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
On Friday, February 15 at 7 pm, join poets Clemens Starck and Barbara Drake as they read from their new collections.
In his early twenties, Clemens Starck dropped out of Princeton and decided to take responsibility for his own education—to read deeply, travel widely, and write poems with the precision and plainspoken-ness of the Chinese masters. Over the decades, he also kept his mind clear by making a living with his hands. Cathedrals & Parking Lots represents the work of a lifetime—poems of memorable clarity and substance based on actual experiences, whether standing lookout on the bow of a freighter, dismantling houses for a living, building a freeway overpass, or traveling to Russia and studying the language. Composed in the cadences of everyday speech, Starck’s poems have the functional beauty of a Shaker chair—every word, every line, every image belongs.
“Clem Starck is an American original, a unique voice and sensibility. And he’s a master craftsman. Every poem is rock solid. If you hit any of them with a sledgehammer, the only things that would fly off would be sparks. Cathedrals & Parking Lots, the long-awaited gathering from all his previous books, is an amazing collection.”— Joseph Stroud
“The poetry of Clem Starck is an American Works and Days. . ..This is the kind of poetry Whitman called for: an expression of the individual — original, moving, refreshingly unacademic.” — Louis Simpson
“According to the Tao, Clem Starck wobbles not, & knows a thing or two. There’s really no one quite like him.” — Robert Peterson
“Starck has a faultless ear and an admirable concision. He also has a quietly devastating wit and a sharp eye for the foibles of our society.” — Carolyn Kizer, Judge for the Oregon Book Award
Barbara Drake’s newest poetry book is The Road to Lilac Hill: Poems of Time, Place, and Memory, published by Windfall Press, fall 2018. Previous poetry collections include Driving One Hundred, Love at the Egyptian Theatre, What We Say to Strangers, Life in a Gothic Novel, Bees in Wet Weather, and Small Favors. She is also the author of two collections of personal essays Peace at Heart: an Oregon Country Life, and Morning Light, both published by Oregon State University Press and both Oregon Book Award finalists (1999 and 2016). Her college textbook, Writing Poetry, has been in print since 1983. Drake received her MFA from the University of Oregon in 1966. After graduate school she lived in Michigan for 16 years, teaching at Michigan State University. In 1983 she began teaching at Linfield College in McMinnville Oregon where she developed the undergraduate creative writing program and taught until she retired in 2007. She and her husband live on a small Yamhill County farm which was the inspiration for her nonfiction and where they enjoy introducing their grandchildren to country life.
The Road to Lilac Hill explores the arc of life, individual and universal. The poems range from childhood memories of World War II coastal blimps, to elusive grandchildren hiding in summer grass, from mysteries of photography and seeing, to the grandeur of Oregon’s varied landscape. Drake’s poems tease out the question of time: Where does it go, what does it mean, and what do we make of it? Her work is playful but serious, accessible but layered with meaning to be examined and enjoyed. Windfall Press
“I love Barbara Drake’s warmhearted and intimate and modest voice in these poems. I love, especially, the way she evokes the nostalgic past without sentimentality but with great good humor and wonder; and how she looks at the natural world, even the tiniest blooms underfoot, with such close attention and curiosity and appreciation. In these poems it’s as if we are sitting across the kitchen table from a dear friend, a friend who is funny and kind, who can always find the magic in the commonplace.” — Molly Gloss, author of The Hearts of Horses
“Barbara Drake is one of a kind, an original. She writes about the plainest, the most ordinary things in poems made with such a light touch they almost float off the page. they are delightful, in the highest sense of that word. Fetching. Sheep, wildflowers, granddaughters and border collies inhabit them, and a kestrel on the telephone wire / . . . enjoying her morning mouse, / whose limp tail dangles like an untied shoestring. effervescent poems. Deft. Luminous. Down-home.” — Clemens Starck, author of Cathedrals & Parking Lots: Collected Poems
“It is a gift to travel The Road to Lilac Hill with Barbara Drake. The seventy-five- year-old woman has seen wonders in her life, she tells us. You rarely see such things anymore. yet with every page she continues to see, and in these poems we walk beside her as she shares her view from a perspective of insight and good humor. Lilac Hill Road, she says, rises and falls in hills and hollows, / yet gives me a steady place in the universe, and this collection gives us a steady place from which we view dogs and sheep and rivers, the wildflower stories her beloved farm tells over and over, a double helix of pelicans in high desert air, a world she has ridden to its end / and its beginning.” — Bette Husted, author of All Coyote’s Children
Photo by Chang Qing on Unsplash