March 15, 2024

Local poet prepares to showcase work during National Poetry Month

By Masha Yurkevich

As the days near to April, Windham poet Bob Clark is preparing for his annual poetry display at the Windham Public Library which will highlight some of his most popular writing.

A collection of poetry by Windham
poet Bob Clark will be on display
throughout the month of April
at the Windham Public Library
during National Poetry Month.
Clark’s previous poetry books including Carriage Lane, Tourmaline, Canoe, and Spinnaker will be featured, along with this year’s new book, Seaside, all of which can be purchased at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in Windham.

The new book, Seaside, is a collection of Clark’s poems with a goal to show New England, with an emphasis on the state of Maine. Clark says it keeps an eye to the shoreline, which is unique when you have it and even more unique when you don’t.

“To match the change of seasons and the uplifting of April, I wanted to pull things aside and lay them out with some visuals,” says Clark.

He thinks his best work lies ahead.

“I am still learning, there is so much more to it, which is the beauty of writing,” Clark said.

He feels that some of his best work is in this new book including his poems “An extra moment,” “A poem,” and ‘The blizzard of ‘93.”

The poem “An extra moment,” takes advantage of Maine’s shoreline which made Winslow Homer, the famous watercolor artist and painter, make the decision to spend the end of his life in isolation on Prouts Neck in Scarborough for no other reason than to capture the lights and the spray, showing the importance of an extra moment.

Clark’s “A poem’’ includes a famous line “a poem must not mean but be,” which leads readers to many questions but is an honorable way to spend some time, says Clark.

He said that “A poem” likens the mystery of a poem to the mystery of vines that have no boundary.

“Just like a vine, where you start may not be where you end up, and it usually is not,” Clark said.

His “The blizzard of ‘93” poem is dramatic like our shoreline, but it is not about going to the beach, Clark said.

Usually writing his poems in iambic pentameter with which he likes to experiment, Clark has invented a stanza of four, which he calls the “quad” and it can be seen in some of his latest work in the new book “Seaside.”

For Clark, the Windham Public Library has always been a very valuable place and has always been an attraction where you can open a book and go at your own pace, which he says is very critical.

“Sometimes when reading literature, you can’t wait to turn the page,” he said. “In poetry, sometimes you can’t wait not to turn the page.”

The recent shooting tragedy in Lewiston had a heavy impact on Clark, having grown up and spent much of his time nearby and even working for an adult education program in Lewiston. This led him to compose a poem in which he placed much emotion with a goal to communicate to the victims that they were not alone in their grief.

Clark was contacted by the mayor of Lewiston to come to the Lewiston City Council meeting to read his framed poem ‘Our Candle Vigil’. His poem was also featured in the Nov. 4 edition of the Lewiston Sun Journal newspaper.

“It is an unusual tragedy with an unusual poem,” says Clark.

At home, Clark enjoys the work of other poets such as Longfellow and Robert Frost, with which he can make a human connection, despite the time that has passed. He also enjoys writers in France, England, and Maine who lived through the 1940s and 1950s and were keen observers. Clark reads to see what sort of word selection and what word rhythms different writers use.

“My interest is largely drawn from nature and the rural setting and when I find an author like that, it makes me want to spend some time in their writing and see if they have something to say that I cannot possibly know because I’m in a different era,” says Clark.

Apart from other poets and writers, painters and artists are also an inspiration to Clark.

“I’ll spend as much time reading as I will studying a painting,” he says. “I have the advantage of time. My inspiration is just walking and talking and being able to be mobile and get out and hike, go to the beach, talk to friends, read, lean back, and ponder. “As I am finishing the book for this, I am already starting the one for next year, which will be a trilogy.”

At the end of each of his books, Clark has an afterword with a list of other pastoral poems and humanistic themes. His poetry works will be on public display at the Windham Public Library throughout the month of April. <

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