books and CD's
Odd jobs that prepared you for nothing. Travels that were mostly getting lost. Lessons learned the hard way, that could have proved lethal. Melodies of the hard cash of a life hitting the counter, being spent. Dropped on you deadpan, but with a knowing twinkle. Clemens Starck's disguises are comic, myriad, and nearly transparent, viewed through the eyes of an innocent in quest of a meaningful life. Tag along and learn something.
Clemens Starck's first book of poems, Journeyman’s Wages, received the 1996 Oregon Book Award as well as the William Stafford Memorial Poetry Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.
"Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling, for as soon as the mind responds and connects with the thing the feeeling shows in the words: this is how poetry enters deeply into us. If the poet presents directly feelings which overwhelm him, and keeps nothing back to linger as an aftertaste, he stirs us superficially; he cannot start the hands and feet involuntarily waving and tapping in time, far less strengthen morality and refine culture, set heaven and earth in motion and call up the spirits!" — Wei Tai [eleventh century]
"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
"Some truly extraordinary poems here. Easily, gracefully, right up there with the best work being done today." — Jim Harrison
"This is a marvelous book....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
Journeyman's Wages is written with the precision of a skilled craftsman. Whether Starck writes about pouring concrete, butchering rabbits, studying Chinese, or confronting questions from his young son, his poetry speaks in precise, clear language rooted in mind and body.
In this unusual book, Oregon poet and carpenter Clemens Starck recounts in verse and in prose his involvement with Russia and the Russian language. "What began as a joke," writes Starck in the prologue, "soon became an obsession." Poems written during and around his two trips to Russia in the 1990's alternate with brief commentaries providing the background and context from which the poems arose.
eileen duncan, salmon bay review
"The poems of Clemens Starck are refreshing and wonderful to read. There is no excess of language and no academic posturing; these poems are crafted with a subtlety of form and a precision that are the hallmarks of fine architecture." — Eileen Duncan, Salmon Bay Review
Morton Marcus, San Jose Metro
"His poems are meditations—done with a painter's light touch—about maintaining spiritual and mental balance in all aspects of living, and they have a distinctly Asian cast of thought and utterance reminiscent of the Chinese sage poets and Japanese Zen masters." —Morton Marcus, San Jose Metro
"I have been crazy about Clem Starck's poetry ever since I read it a few years ago while picking him as the winner of the Oregon Book Award. I'm not alone in particularly cherishing poems by people who work with their hands. Carpenters, printers, and factory workers are a fresh and vital antidote to the myriad of academic poets. Cheers for Clem!" — Carolyn Kizer
"Medieval cathedrals are unsigned wonders, built deliberately and reverently—built to last. But so, Starck might argue, are freeways. With the mindset & logic of the building trades coupled with a curiosity touching far-flung languages and cultures, Clemens Starck spots the odd signature set in concrete underfoot, or the anonymous soaring camber of an overpass. The whimsical, sorry and radiant results of an effortful life converge in this ramble where his timely, focused practice offers unexpected gifts—and laughs. Starck's explanation of a scaffold, as "a makeshift platform / from which to contemplate / impermanence" would do Wittgenstein proud. In his hands we savor this ongoing world as a mostly orderly but sometimes haphazard creation, fashioned of whatever came to hand & to mind." — Paul Hunter
looking for parts, audio CD
Recorded live in Cannon Beach , OR, on October 17 & 18, and December 19 & 20, 2009.
Jon Broderick: guitar, banjo, slide guitar, ukulele, manual typewriter, wine glass, dinner triangle.
Jay Speakman: harmonicas, jew's-harp, piano, open-tuned guitar, hand-drums, sticks, rattle, cold-rolled steel pipe.
The poems on this disc are from the following books by Clem Starck: Journeyman's Wages (Story Line Press, 1995), China Basin (Story Line Press, 2002), Traveling Incognito (Wood Works, 2004).
getting it straight, audio CD
Recorded live in Cannon Beach, OR, on December 9 - 12, 2012 and April 15 - 17, 2013.
with music by Jon Broderick and Jay Speakman,
The poems on this disc are from the following books by Clem Starck: Journeyman's Wages (Story Line Press, 1995), China Basin (Story Line Press, 2002), Traveling Incognito (Wood Works, 2004), Rembrandt, Chainsaw, (Wood Works, 2011).