Amy Clampitt was born and brought up in New Providence, Iowa, graduated from Grinnell College, and from that time on lived mainly in New York City. Her first full-length collection of poems, The Kingfisher, published in 1983, was followed in 1985 by What the Light Was Like, in 1987 by Archaic Figure, and in 1990 by Westward. A Silence Opens, her last book, appeared in 1994.
The recipient in 1982 of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1984 of an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, she was made a MacArthur Prize Fellow in 1992. She purchased a small house in Lenox, Mass., with part of the award and lived there briefly. She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a Writer in Residence at the College of William and Mary, Visiting Writer at Amherst College, and Grace Hazard Conkling Visiting Writer at Smith College. She died in September 1994. Her husband, Harold Korn, died in March 2001. It is his estate that has established the Amy Clampitt Fund.
Here, in the foreword to The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt, Mary Jo Salter considers Clampitt's life as a poet—from growing up in the fields of Iowa to political canvassing in Manhattan. Salter recounts her own personal memories of Amy Clampitt as a friend and fellow writer.
You can also read Willard Spiegelman's, "A Poet's Life in Letters," an essay which introduces Love, Amy: The Selected Letters of Amy Clampitt. Spiegelman focuses on the scope of the letters and what they reveal about Clampitt not only as a successful writer but also as a woman in the years before she gained public recognition and acclaim.
Both texts appear here in their entirety, along with photographs from The Selected Letters.
Additional prose by and about Amy Clampitt can be found in the essays section of this site.