Space

Clark Coolidge

Space was one of four books of "New York School" poetry published by Harper and Row in 1970. The other books were Tom Clark's Air, Dick Gallup's Where I Hang My Hat, and Lewis MacAdam's The Poetry Room; (a collection of collaborations with Ron Padgett, entitled Others, was withdrawn before publication). All of these books were acquired by the editor Fran McCullough, who had edited Tom Clark's Stones for Harper and Row the year before. 9.25 x 6 inches. Cover image by Jasper Johns. Set in Journal Roman. Trade editions in both hard and soft cover.

The hardback edition had black endpapers and the following copy on its dust-jacket flaps:

"At first glance, Clark Coolidge's poems appear to be completely impenetrable parades of apparently unrelated words arranged in meaningless patterns across the page. If you keep reading, though, the poems begin to have a strange effectiveness, and eventually you begin to see the words themselves in an entirely new and exhilarating way.

Coolidge's structures are reductive. Syntax -- the systematic connection between words which gives linear discourse its character of extended meaning -- is simply removed. This leaves our attention open to the ways in which words can become instruments of a visual order and of an order of sound that is abstract but not meaningless. What is happening here is a reversal of the normal reading experience. The mind turns back toward the unitary experience of words as structure. Coolidge's experiments invite us to regard words as objects, as organisms with patterns of existing which are specific to themselves, inexplicable and marvelous."


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