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November 2017
104 pages  

6 x 8
9780822964995
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Music for a Wedding
Clark, Lauren
Winner of the 2016 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry

Lauren Clark’s poems move lucidly, depicting beautiful struggles of distrust, dream, grief, and intimacy. They show such conflicts through entrancing narrative drive and song-like abandon. In their unpredictable, unforgettable language, they make pain a tonic for pleasure, sorrow ground for revelation. This is a book that is celebratory, gentle, and queer.
Lauren Clark’s poems have appeared in FIELD, Ninth Letter, the Offing, and many other journals. They earned an MFA from the University of Michigan, where they won four of five categories of the university’s prestigious Hopwood Awards.  They have been the recipient of scholarships from the New York State Summer Writers Institute and the Sewanee Writers Conference. They work as program and development coordinator at Poets House in New York City and collaborate with Etc. Gallery in Chicago.
“Lauren Clark's imagination is, paradoxically, both torrential and discriminating. Their writing is forceful and self-delighting yet minutely attentive to the world’s particulars. They deploy in these stunning poems the maximum amount of intellectual power consistent with a delicacy of perception, subtle sonic and rhetorical modulations, and emotional honesty and vulnerability. Their poems are a marriage and reconciliation of many if not all of the disparate, contradictory, and opposing elements of our experience.” —Vijay Seshadri, judge

“Clark’s work is entirely original, but springs out of poetry’s deepest and most ancient inclinations. Lauren establishes a relationship with the invisible and the ineffable, bringing image and language (as if by magic) to the page and to the reader. A poet of extraordinary talent and range, their first book is a collection readers will return to again and again.”—Laura Kasischke

“Like a Greek myth, but one in which they play all the parts, Lauren Clark struggles to master their fate in the face of ominous portents. Whether at a wedding in barn, in the tender moment of giving a friend a haircut, passing out drunk on a sidewalk, or traversing the landscape of America in a desperate bid to come to terms with a troubled father, the speaker in these poems refuses fatalism in favor of fashioning their own future. How is it possible to love another against the fact of all the messy and terrible ways there are to fail? In these poems the ordinary turns quickly on its ear becoming first quirky and then terrifying. In the end, they are love poems. And like one of the poets they invoke, Catullus, thier love poems cut both ways.”—Kazim Ali

“The poems in Music for a Wedding are runaway trains screaming through landscapes internal and external, visceral and surreal, on their way ‘to the place that is bigger than loss. The place that is big enough to hold every absence.’ Such vivid urgency, its threat and menace! Such pop-dark music! This book is a wild ride.”—Jay Hopler

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Winner of the 2016 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry

The poems in Lauren Clark's debut book, Music for a Wedding, move fluidly and unforgettably between the rituals of monogamy, death, loneliness, and the body in search of what might last forever. In the abandonment of those who die and those who leave, Clark's speakers are orphic in their use of song as a mode of enduring the hours. Like sybils, Clark's poems make the entrails of what's left behind luminous, even if what is presented is darkness, "that low velvet we make / within ourselves". Their poetry is at once free of the formalities associated with lyric poetry and full of its own novel shapes that only Clark could devise. Their poetry queers our understanding of poetics and what a book of poems can be by dwelling in intimate corners of the self that may seem otherwise insensate without their taking us in to witness such depths. In Clark's hands, the whole of the world--in poetry and on the ground--is preternatural, requiring of us dedication and devotion. But not to the usual rituals of mourning and prayer. Rather, "darkness is to remind [us] what [we] could not see before", that in the absence of being with others, the only true devotion left is grief.

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