Stumbling around in darkness: 2 (or 3) questions for Jennifer Clark

Jennifer Clark, whose poems we feature this week, lives on the Mount of Moon.


mich_handWe love the playfulness of "A Concise History of Michigan Cartology," and its picture of Michigan as an open hand, with lives written into it. And we wonder, does Kalamazoo lie along the palm's life line, love line, or somewhere else?

Kalamazoo hovers near the arc of everyone’s life line. Because Kalamazoo sits on the palm’s lower west Mount of Moon, we are a visionary people, blessed with the gift of imagination. For me, Kalamazoo is a fusing of several lines. I left this city for a decade but the gravitational force of its seasons, its lakes and streams, and its earthy people tugged me back. Kalamazoo is tangled into my life and fate lines. My greatest loves reside here. My writing material springs forth from this fertile place.

Can you tell us something about the inspiration for "Gay in the Age of Copper"? And why, in a poem about living a certain way, the focus on burial, and the dawning of a darker age after?

This piece was inspired by the recent discovery made in Prague. Archaeologists unearthed remains of a 5,000 year-old male skeleton. The way in which the individual was buried—like the women of that time—led archaeologists to conclude that the gender identity or sexual orientation of the person was other than a heterosexual male. Whatever the case, care was taken in this burial and suggested, at least to me, that the ancients respected different lifestyles, and may well have been more enlightened than people today. If so, we did enter a darker age as we slipped through the bronze, iron, and middle ages, and somewhere along the way we lost this ability to love in a much bigger way.

Or maybe it’s just that when it comes to writing poetry I often stumble around in darkness. This approach causes me to brush up against things I might not otherwise touch.