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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Clark Coolidge: The Center of My Providence


File:Old overhead Olneyville.jpg

Old overhead sign (c.1952), Harris Ave. at Olneyville Square, Providence, Rhode Island: photo by k1svr, 2005

The center of my
Providence is not
Roger Williams

Well but
a hole in a pond
Swan Point

Clark Coolidge: from The Act of Providence, 2010


Curtis Roberts said...

It's taken me all day to become comfortable with this. No, comfortable is the wrong word. Actually, just to be able to read through it and find it satisfying. No, that's wrong also. I read another piece by Coolidge (From Notebooks (1976-82; 11V176) and finally really liked The Center Of My Providence a great deal and felt enlarged by it. It's tough stuff.

TC said...


I have been following Clark's work for a long time, since publishing a good deal of it in my fugitive mimeo series Once and in The Paris Review, also editing his first "major" book, Space, for Harper & Row, forty years ago now.

I think this new book of Clark's aims for being a sort of Doctor Sax of Providence.

But then I find that along with the confusion, old age induces a sort of simplicity of view.

(Undoubtedly this is a biological mechanism intended for the convenience of extending survival, if only by a bit.)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


These smaller poems you post really show the force and power of words. I, like Curtis, took sometime to find my way with this poem. I think I somehow fought off the fact that the speaker is literally just that - speaking directly. When I imagined the speaker sitting opposite me explaining, suddenly the cadence opened up as did the intent and the slightest tinge of qualification.


TC said...

Thanks, Don.

Again, this one is, I think (for sure!) THE "Issa's poem" of this book.

Curtis Roberts said...

I found Don’s comment gratifying (identification with anyone in a similar situation is good and comforting) and enlightening.

I found Tom’s Dr. Sax reference helpful also and it led me last night to pull up the Paris Review Jack Kerouac interview, which I hadn’t read in a long time and was kind of wild to read before going to sleep, and a piece by Coolidge called “Kerouac”, which I'm still enjoying, that was published in the January/February 1995 issue of American Poetry Review.

Thanks very much to both of you. I really love The Center Of My Providence now. It and the Joseph Ceravolo poem (and Subway and Capital Venture) really helped me through this semi-stressful day.

Great weather, though, and dinner seems very promising.