Thomas A Clark was born in Greenock, Scotland. His poetry has been consistently attentive to form and to the experience of walking in the landscape, returning again and again to the lonely terrain of Fife and the Highlands and Islands.
In 1973, with the artist Laurie Clark, he started Moschatel Press, named after a flowering herb. At first a vehicle for small publications by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Cid Corman, Jonathan Williams, Simon Cutts and others, it soon developed into a means of formal investigation within his own poetry, treating the book and other innovative objects as imaginative space, the page as a framing device or as quiet around an image or a phrase, the leafing through as revelation or delay.
From 1986, Laurie and Thomas A Clark have also run Cairn Gallery, one of the earliest ‘artist-run spaces’, specialising in Land Art, Minimalism and a lyrical or poetic Conceptualism. After many years in the Cotswolds, the Clarks moved in 2002 to re-open the gallery in Pittenweem.
Clark has also published a number of books which more formally collate some of his ephemeral writings and objects, often in collaboration with artists. These include Tormentil and Bleached Bones (Polygon, 1993), Distance to the Sea (Morning Star, 2000), The Path to the Sea (Arc, 2006), Of Woods and Water (Moschatel, 2008) The Hundred Thousand Places (Carcanet, 2009), Yellow & Blue (Carcanet, 2014), Farm by the Shore (Caecanet, 2017), Of The Wayside (Lawn Editions, 2019) and The Threadbare Coat: Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2020)
In addition to his books and smaller publications, Clark has also made site-specific installations in gardens, galleries or against the wider landscape, and has many works in major permanent collections.
In 2013, Robert MacFarlane discussed the work of Clark in relation to walking and the landscape alongside that of the poet Edward Thomas in his book The Old Ways.
The Library has an extensive collection of his Moschatel Press publications, amounting to hundreds of objects which are accessible for viewing. Please contact the Librarian for more information.
In 2019, Nell Widger completed a project at the Library on the complex relationship of exhibiting and digitalizing some of the more unusual objects made by Clark and others. Her discussion on this along side her photographs of some of the pieces can be read here.
A film of Clark’s pieces at Harewood House, Leeds was released in 2022, titled while the song lasts-