Clayton Adam Clark’s A Finitude of Skin opens with Missouri, its fissures and declivities and hidden chambers:
Blame it on the limestone—the sinkholes, the speleological interest, an overwhelming karstness here. People get lost.
And indeed, people do get lost. The poems in A Finitude of Skin depict the acting and interacting of so many bodies, from bacteria to armadillos, from seed ticks to an oak tree so big you can’t wrap your arms around it. It’s in this environment that a narrative takes shape: a couple coming together and then, like everything else, breaking apart. By braiding the language and imagery of these bodies, Clark’s verse reflects the complicated ecosystem two people can form, honing in on the strange places they make contact, and don’t. Once we become entrenched in these Cave State landscapes and the goings-on of all these bodies, we can see and feel the many ways, “life there is vulnerable to disruption.”
About the Author
Clayton Adam Clark lives in Saint Louis, his hometown, where he works as a public health researcher and volunteers for River Styx magazine. A Finitude of Skin is his first full-length poetry collection, and his poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Mid-American Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. He earned the MFA in creative writing at Ohio State University and is studying clinical mental health counseling at University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“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 and The Joker: A Memoir
“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 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