Willard Spiegelman

PennSound Podcast #75

Photo of Willard Spiegelman by Al Filreis.
Photo of Willard Spiegelman by Al Filreis.


In this PennSound podcast, Willard Spiegelman sits down with Al Filreis at the Kelly Writers House’s Wexler Studio for a discussion on the underappreciated 20th century poet Amy Clampitt. The duo embark on a long exploration of Spiegelman’s biography on Clampitt, Nothing Stays Put: The Life and Poetry of Amy Clampitt (Knopf, 2023). Spieigelman reveals the challenges he faced connecting the dots on simple elements of Clampitt’s biographical record, noting gaps in Clampitt’s earlier life that she avoided discussing with even her close friends and family. He admits that the biographer’s work can never be authoritative, only representative: “Everyone’s life is lived forward,” he writes, “but it is remembered, reimagined, and reconstructed backwards and in circles.... Something is always missing.”

Spiegelman traces Clampitt’s life from her education at Grinnell College and the Cummington School of the Arts in Massachusetts, to her move to New York, to her relatively late breakthrough onto the poetry scene in the 1970s. Spiegelman punctuates the interview with readings from the biography as well as selections from Clampitt’s poetry. Filreis and Spiegelman then recorded ModPo video discussion of Clampitt’s first published poem, “The Sun Underfoot Among the Sundews,” available to watch at this link.