from Publishers Weekly:

Probing work and family life, Starck displays a deep respect for mundane and, seemingly, randomly chosen, subjects: work boots, archery, a car engine, cutting grass. In the 11 lines of "Railroad Crossing" he moves one through 20 years with swift, sure-handed sketching. The ironic "Ammo Ship" considers the carriage of two diverse cargoes (asphalt and bombs) in an authoritative voice: the bombs, having shifted "in their fragile wooden crates / tossed about like restless sleepers," require the seamen to enter the hold to secure them, and Starck renders the scene and mood with deft economy. While he and his children cut the grass in an overgrown yard, "a single yellow jacket mirrors /  what's left of the sun." Elsewhere a search for a shock absorber bracket for his pickup truck becomes a litany of frustration and, finally, accomplishment. 

From Booklist:

Starck's new work is concerned with hard work and laborers. A former merchant seaman, ranch hand, Wall Street reporter, and construction foreman, Starck has seen much of the delicate balance between the work of the mind and the work of the body, and he builds each poem as a carpenter would a bookcase, mindful of both the framework's beauty and the task's ultimate purpose. Of a remodeling project, he writes, "I honor the man who taught me / the soul is a house / and you build it, / joining the wood, / driving the nails home."

These poems celebrate not only work itself, but also the journeyman who can see, as Starck does, the sublime grace of hanging out at an auto parts store chatting about Chevys or of loose tools rattling in the back of the truck while he's driving by "white mist, black trees." Starck is an expert workman, building his original lines nail by nail, as it were.   —Elizabeth Gunderson


"So, why these books? Well, there’s a pure joy in reading and beholding a handmade volume that defies our mad, mass-producing culture. And it pleases me to sense the other human beings that pulse behind the pages. These books own the plain beauty of fresh-planed two-by-fours, all complemented by well-made papers, proper and elegant typefaces, delicate spot illustrations." — Dana Jennings, New York Times Arts Beat


"Journeyman's Wages is a book of clear, graceful poems at once accessible and resonant with intelligence." — Doug Marx, The Oregonian

"Poet Clem Starck makes his living as a carpenter at Oregon State University. He reads and writes in his studio on an old pioneer homestead near Dallas that he built himself. His poems deal with the details of the concrete world in carefully laid-out lines." —Oregon Art Beat

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Photo credit: Anita K. Boyle

Photo credit: Anita K. Boyle