'some particulars'
: The Poetry and Practice of Thomas A. Clark

  • Alice Tarbuck

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis is a critical study of the poetry and practice of Thomas A. Clark. It constitutes the first extended critical study of Clark’s work. This thesis orients Clark within a network of influence, both historic and contemporary. It does this in order to contextualise and investigate Clark’s innovative use of form, theme, and materiality. In Clark’s work, form is used to explore and engage with the natural world. These interactions reveal the primacy of close attention in Clark’s work, and his understanding of the ethical relationship between form, content, and the natural world.

    This thesis isolates four geographic features in Clark’s work as lenses through which to explore his practice: the Field, the Garden, Concrete, and the Mountain. Thus, the thesis follows the structure of a walk through Clark’s work, designed to echo Clark’s own walking poetry. These four chapters explore different facets of Clark’s influence: The Field chapter investigates Clark’s reputation as a pastoralist, and his links to Romanticism, as well as to Charles Olson’s open field poetics. Chapter two, ‘Composition is a forgotten art’: The Garden, explores Clark’s engagement with ‘domestic nature’, and the parallels he creates between the space of the text and the space of the garden, and how this parallel allows for intense formal experimentation in a small space. Additionally, the Garden chapter investigates spaces of rest and recuperation in Clark’s work. Chapter three, Thomas A. Clark and Concrete Poetry investigates Clark’s relationship with concrete poetry, and how his post-concrete poetics have developed in relation to the broader post-concrete and conceptual art scene in Britain. Finally, Mountain Tasting: Zen and the poetry of Thomas A. Clark examines Clark’s relationship with Japanese Zen poetics, and the way in which the 1960s interest in Zen which influenced Objective poetry and minimalism has profoundly influenced Clark’s understanding of the ethical function of a text.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsArts & Humanities Research Council
    SupervisorAndrew Roberts (Supervisor), Aliki Varvogli (Supervisor) & Julie Johnstone (Supervisor)


    • Thomas A. Clark
    • Innovative Poetry
    • Environmental Humanities
    • Artists Books

    Cite this