Contributor Spotlight: Clayton Clark

Clayton-ClarkClayton Clark’s poem, “The Laws of Motion”  is featured in Issue 71 of the Bellingham Review.

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

I like to integrate scientific topics, especially health and the human body, into my poems, and as a result, I usually end up focusing in on the different ways humans and other bodies connect and clash. In this particular poem, I used Newton’s three laws of motion as a framework to think about a relationship (my marriage, specifically). And like all bodies in motion, we’re none of us isolated, so the speaker and addressee are engaging with other bodies in motion in ways that seem to look, or at least feel, like the principles Newton identified.

Tell us about your writing life.

I’ve been at this for about 12 years, if you include my first writing classes in college. I’m not really sure what’s kept me writing, except maybe that I do see improvement. It’s hard to see it from a poem-to-poem perspective, but from year to year, I see my writing become more and more what I want from poetry, which is encouraging. If I reach a point where that plateaus for a significant period of time, I’ll find it a lot harder to keep writing.

What writing advice has stayed with you

Poetry doesn’t have to be nonfiction, but it still must be true. I think I was told that early on, in undergrad maybe, but I only started to understand how to use it–both the freedom and the responsibility–to my advantage a few years ago.

Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?

My work in public health and the time I spend outdoors.

What is your favorite book (or essay, poem, short story)? Favorite writer(s)?

Terrance Hayes is the contemporary poet I’m most excited about right now.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I’m about halfway through the novel All That Followed by Gabriel Urza, and I recently started The Gone and the Going Away, Maurice Manning’s most recent collection.

What project(s) are you working on now, or next?

I’m still writing poems to sharpen my first poetry collection, for which I’m seeking publication. I also have a long poem that I started earlier this year that desperately needs revision, not to mention an ending. At 10 pages, it’s the longest poem I’ve ever attempted (the 4-pager “The Laws of Motion” published by BR is the longest poem I’ve completed to date). So I’m slowly figuring out how to make several different topics clash and interrelate across that length and trajectory–and still be as interesting as possible at every turn.


CLAYTON ADAM CLARK lives in St. Louis, MO, his hometown, where he works for Health Literacy Missouri, a nonprofit that helps healthcare organizations simplify their communications so more people can get good care. He also volunteers as an editor and board member for River Styx magazine. He earned the MFA in poetry at Ohio State University and is currently seeking publication for his first full-length collection. Some of his other poems were recently published in The Southeast Review, Bayou, and elsewhere.