In Down and Up, Clarence Major makes use of American and European public places, their character and voice, to construct poems that explore the physical world juxtaposed sharply with the inner world. Sometimes realistic, sometimes dreamlike, these poems are dynamic, universal in theme, and acknowledge a debt to the great tradition of modern American poetry. Clear eyed and painterly, they explore wherever Major’s fancy takes him. His distinctive voice and compelling spatial and visual approach offer a connection between everyday human occurrences and the physical space they surround.
Clarence Major has written a collection of poetry that celebrates being human. Small moments expand into treatises of love and doubt, life and art, and it all seems so natural. Here’s a poet who has mastered a language he owns through personal rhythm, and he knows what it takes to transcend. Down and Up
is shaped under the pressure of living and dreaming with one’s eyes opened.
—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of The Chameleon Couch
I love the stark contrasts that run throughout Down and Up and the piercing images that so often cinch the poems’ endings. They remind me that Major is also a painter, someone with such a vivid sense of how narrative and impulse inhabit the visual realm and who is quite readily capable of carrying them into impeccable language.
—Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars
Down and Up
celebrates what it means to be human with moments that explore love, doubt, life and art. With distinctive language and rich imagery, the poems take the reader on a rhythmic journey through the various realities of the human experience. At the same time, they demonstrate a wide and deep understanding of the American story, including its music, mythology, history and heartache.