Cultural Quarterly
Spring/Summer 2009
Volume XXII, Number 2
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Anastasia Clark

For Anastasia Clark
the Poetry Never Stops
By Susan F. Davis

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Anastasia Clark is many things… wife, mother, grandmother, veteran, editor and – most importantly for us – a poet.  Her love of poetry is clearly reflected in the enthusiasm and warmth in her voice when she speaks of it.  After all, she’s been writing poetry since she was in fifth grade.

School seems to provide one of the common denominators in Clark’s journey.  When she attended high school in Framingham, Mass., one of her English teachers encouraged her to enter a local poetry contest to celebrate the town’s 275th anniversary.  She did, won first prize for her poem The Celebration of Bloom and the rest, as they say, is history.

During the 1977-78 school year , Clark became the Poet in Residence for the Framingham Public Schools.  She taught a 10-week poetry seminar to 23 fourth grade classes which culminated in an anthology of their work, happily and proudly edited by Clark.  From there, she moved to South Florida with her family, and she wrote, and wrote and wrote.

“I can’t imagine living without poetry,” she states.  “It is an emotional outlet, but it’s so much more.”  Many of her poems, she says, practically write themselves.  “They begin with a seed of an idea or maybe even one sentence.  You see something; you feel something – and the poem is there!”

She describes herself as a succinct, precise poet.  “Less is more.  It’s like playing Scrabble!  I keep trying to get the most points out of the least words.”  A traditionalist, Clark likes rhyming poetry, simple stanzas and powerful visual images. 

Living in Broward County has truly been a gift to her.  “The art community here is thriving and takes on an energy of its own,” notes the Miramar resident.  “It has allowed me to be who I always wanted to be.”  Who she wanted to be was, quite simply, a poet who would become published so her work could be shared.

And share it she does.  Anastasia Clark is generous with her time and her gifts. She performs her own pieces in libraries, book stores, art galleries and schools.  “I found,” she says, “that when I read my own work, the audience likes it and I feel an amazing connection with them!” And well they should, since her themes are universal and touch every segment of her audience.

Clark’s full-length collections of poetry include Grieving with Poetry (2004), written after the deaths of her parents; Bloodsongs (2004), which discusses women’s issues; Skeletons and Other Complaints (2004), focusing on life’s challenges; and Vagabond Pond (2006), poems about feeling lost. 

From living in New England to serving in the Marine Corps for eight years, and from motherhood to being a grandmother, she understands that her experiences in each of these aspects of her life have shaped her both as a writer and a person.  “I love it that my family is proud of me,” she says.  “Their support is important and necessary!”  Recently, she traveled to Houston, Texas, where she found herself completely immersed in the visual images of the town.  “I was impressed with the architecture – all the lines and textures.  It was obvious that they had taken such pride in the visual reputation of their city!”  From this inspiration, many more poems will be born.

Her advice to other writers – young and old?  “Get everything on paper as soon as you can.  Don’t be afraid to rewrite yourself.  And – save everything!”  That is exactly what Anastasia Clark did.  Now, her powerful images, economy of words and traditional format reach out to us.  They are her gifts to all of us as we find shreds of ourselves in her poems.  But, you’ll see that for yourselves when you read the works of this amazing woman.

The Empty Train
Sometimes the sunset wheels
Of the empty train roll slowly
As a harmonica song-

Lilting us backward in
A summer sonnet
Of lavender fields-

Yellow bonnets, busy farmers.

Our tall engine steaming through
The country shadows
Of wooden swings and fishing ponds.

Cotton dresses and double moonshine,
Broken porches and hungry cows.

We see blue jays out
The windows  now-
And kites in every tree.

And- I think if we go fast enough
We, too, will all be free…

Pebble Trails
There are
Pebble trails
Leading us back
To some

Old rickety cabin
In some old
Rickety woods-

Where
Children stood

And admired
The taste
Of little
Red berries
Rickety daisies-

And even
The taste
Of dirt.

 Walking for Friends
She walks
Among the clover-
And looks for precious rocks.

She talks
To all the dandelions-
And tends them as a flock.

She sings
Of rainbows in ugly stones-
And whispers to the bees.

She speaks
Of blooming azalea flowers-
And the friends that they can be.

She gathers
Followers in every step-
And dances in the wind.

She celebrates
The nature trail-
And the friends that she brought in
.


To read work by Anastasia Clark, visit her website at www.anastasiaclark.com.