A Silence Opens
Amy Clampitt’s fifth book of poetry, A SILENCE OPENS, reveals the poet as a curious observer of the impulse to faith found in such religious leaders as Joseph Smith and George Fox. All experience captures her interest here, particularly that mystery often labeled as “revelation” or, depending on one’s culture, “kif” or “nirvana.” The title phrase appears in two poems that touch on the experience of spiritual transcendence and the ineffable.
Arranged in four parts with seven poems in each, A SILENCE OPENS is a carefully structured work. Like Walt Whitman, a notable presence in several poems, Clampitt writes of New York scenes and the American experience of discovery, but her view is tempered, at times, by late twentieth century pessimism. Where Whitman found hope in the future of democracy and progress, Clampitt sees lassitude in bedraggled Americans and public policy reduced to “the quaint ordeal of Trickle-Down” economics. History and nature are both silent about the American experience. Pocahontas, the early settlers who disappeared at Roanoke Island, as well as the present-day hordes who ride the Staten Island ferry offer no words of explanation. Language itself fails, finally, when the author attempts to understand the passion of religious experience.
A SILENCE OPENS may be Amy Clampitt’s most accessible work. As in her earlier books, playfulness with language and meter and use of such devices as alliteration,...
(The entire section is 352 words.)
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