Clangings by Steven Cramer

“A wild, original departure for Steven Cramer, the forty-nine poems in “Clangings” constitute a single dramatic monologue—the speaker manifesting “clang associations”—mental connections made between dissociated ideas through rhymes, puns, neologisms and other non-linear speech, occurring frequently in schizophrenia and mania.  This dramatic premise, coupled with strict form—each poem composed in five rhyming quatrains—creates an indelible character who articulates, through and against language, a pressing need for coherence and stability.”  -Sarabande Books

From the moment you pick up a copy of Clangings, you will set off on a journey twisting and turning through expressive play and free associations.  Along the way, you will pause (breathless) to reconsider the meanings of words you thought you knew before racing off again to laugh out loud or scratch your head, all the while wondering where Steven Cramer will take you next.  Read on.  Precocious and eager, often funny and sometimes tender, the speaker will certainly trigger all your senses.  My advice?  Don’t bother to fasten your seatbelt.  Simply roll down your window and enjoy the ride.

A selection from Clangings:

I’m speaking with my mother’s voice
because she always told me what to say.
Because he always told me what to say,
I’m speaking with my father’s voice.
Once, there was a son and a father.
The son beamed if Father got daddish.
Grounded, Dad was a dry-docked fish
off his kilter; air, his executioner.
Twice, and toothsome, the mother
esteemed so much, starlight got lost.
Steam her from inside her cedar chest
where hearts unlock boxes and wonder
beats.  Up close, Dad smelled priceless,
gripping a great sea bass through the gills.
Mom softened ills with menthol apples.
To stand her, I withstood her caresses.
They’re co-stars staring from my talkies,
voice-overs, visors.  Their soundtracks
liven up my SWAT and splatter-flicks,
because they told me what to say, always.

Steven Cramer is no more schizophrenic than Browning was the Duke of Ferrara.  He has, however, been known to talk to himself if no one else is inclined to listen.  He is the author of four previous poetry collections, including Goodbye to the Orchard (Sarabande, 2004), which won the 2005 Sheila Motton Prize from the New England Poetry Club and was a 2005 Honor Book in Poetry by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.  He currently directs the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, which was named by Poets and Writers as one of the top ten low-residency MFA programs in the country. When asked how he thought the MFA program fares, he answered: “it thrives beyond my worst nightmares.”

Clangings is due out this month.  Please order a copy from your local independent bookstore or visit  For more information about Steven Cramer, see:

About HomenDunRoamin

Teaching Artist & Writer: fiction, poetry & nonfiction. Recently completed work: a hybrid memoir. In progress: a novel set in an unnamed Latin American country on the brink of war. The book examines violent and nonviolent resistance and the choices women are forced to make to survive.
This entry was posted in Good Reads and Writes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

I'd love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s