Winner of the 2017 Moon City Poetry Award
Praise for A Finitude of Skin
Clayton Adam Clark’s A Finitude of Skin is a deftly complex recounting of the dissolution of a marriage and also a meditation on the physiology the lovers contain and the geology that contains them, all of them subject to breaking down. Missouri and the Mississippi River are part and parcel of the islands, rivers and rivulets of the human body, and vice versa. Clark’s capacious vision and his strenuous poetry will enthrall and enlarge his readers.
— Andrew Hudgins, author of A Clown at Midnight: Poems
This book pulled me through its pages with the strength of a major river current. With its incredible intimacy of attention and rigor of the senses, A Finitude of Skin clarifies and softens the under-sung boundaries between subjects and landscapes. The driving, structured lyrics that comprise Clark’s moving portrait of self and environment build and grow into what feels like a tributary system of connection between physics and emotion, marriage and grief, entropy and survival, and home and place. Clark’s poetry is capable of illuminating a world in which the experience of being human is a process in which blood will one day return from ‘the farthest vessels from your heart.’ Let it.
— Lo Kwa Mei-en, author of The Bees Make Money in the Lion
In A Finitude of Skin, Clayton Adam Clark shows us how the ground beneath our feet is riddled with caves and holes—the predictable injuries inflicted by water and time—and how our bodies are no different. “No one’s wholly distinct,” Clark says, “yet each must see / his body through.” Erosion, sickness, and wounding are treated in a measured, even-handed way that’s reminiscent of writers like Rumi or Boethius. And yet, different from almost any other poet I’ve read, there’s a fascination with the medical glossolalia of the body (pericardium, thoracic, hypothalamic, eczematous) that underscore the poet’s desire for absolute laser precision. These are exacting poems from an exacting poet that deserve the reader’s full attention.
— Travis Mossotti, author of Narcissus Americana
In A Finitude of Skin, Clayton Adam Clark’s powerful first book, the poems are as inventive as they are remarkable for their reach of argument. Seed ticks and leaches, viruses, bag worms, one cadaver—the biological surprise and anatomical detailing of these poems leave their mark. What anyone who reads A Finitude of Skin will appreciate is the way Clark puts the particular to the purpose of the whole, as Coriolis to spinning body, or wind to wind turbine, or, more complicatedly, as space to myth. Clark is an original where predicament and dramatic arc are concerned, but the net effect of his poetry is return, as this book is one you will read and keep reading. Grab it.
— Wyatt Prunty, author of Couldn’t Prove, Had to Promise
Clayton Adam Clark finds grace in the irresolvable. In A Finitude of Skin, the binaries that anchor us—anatomy and duende, love and decay, being and mortality—break down beneath the elegant force of Clark’s syntax. And within that breaking, he offers us a lens for strange beauty: a man spraying for brown recluses while his lover sleeps, a sculpture made of butter, a surgically removed heart, a fragile world where “No one’s wholly distinct / yet each must see his body through.”
— Matthew Sumpter, author of Public Land