National Poetry Month Spotlight: Jo Ann Clark

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2015! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections. In turn, the featured poets will introduce poems they love. Happy April!
Today’s featured poet is Jo Ann Clark, author of 1001 Facts of Prehistoric Life.
Clark CoverManifesto for Tumor and Poem
It must be home- and slowly-grown,
allowed to long linger hearthside
alongside heart, blood, bone,
getting good and warm. Do not be
thrown by the erratic exotic
appearing full-flowered, fully blown,
and doing the trick as well, or better,
from a seed wild-sown.
Extremes are far too easy—
be they benignant or malign.
The ideal’s a rogue affinity:
the invasive-but-contained one that,
though exiled from natal soil—its sole
known source, might just turn up
playing mouth organ for another
throat, breast, lung. Another voice.
Jo Ann has chosen to introduce two poems by Ann Lauterbach.
She says:   Both poems are knockouts. About “The Translator’s Dilemna,” what strikes me is how concisely and quietly it embodies Ann Lauterbach’s central concern—which is with knowing. The dilemma comes from having to depend upon undependable words to get across what we wish others to knowThe translator’s progress is waylaid by approximating detours, faux-amis, and the “defeat” of “never “find(ing)” le mot juste just there “in the foreground” or around the bend.  That connective “mission” and impulse—by, of, and through language—is of a piece with the “ordinary” way the subjective, personal elements of the poem enter in. “John” appears and inhabits the poem in such commonplace fashion that his presence suggests the ease of longstanding relationship—a suggestion made without the tired device of detailing the relationship’s intimacies. Having so long championed her work and felt its influence, we may assume that the “John” here is Ashbery. Or not. The poem inspires thoughts about the ambivalence introduced by common, “ordinary and pleasurable words” and friends and names. It inspires further thoughts about how occupationally hazardous, frustrated, or defeating can be the quest to find the right ones: Thoughts, words, “an open book,” friends.  Let’s Entertain Them! may belie the poem’s dark, “deaf-to-light” tone, but the upbeat imperative well captures its hopeful essence and particulars.
Clark Author Photo 2Jo Ann Clark is the author of poems, translations, and critical reviews. Her work has been anthologized in Hot Sonnets and Reactions4 New Poetry and has appeared in many online and print journals. She holds degrees from Bates College and Columbia University and has taught at Bank Street College, St. Stephen’s School in Rome, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Clark is currently working on new collections and collaborations.