Clangings (2012)

Clangings is a book-length sequence of poems comprising a single dramatic monologue. The speaker manifests the thought disorder known as “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–develops a character who articulates, through and against language, a pressing need for coherence and stability.  Other Clangings can be read in Crazyhorse, No. 80; Denver Quarterly, Vol 46, No. 2; Field, No. 84; The Journal, Spring/Summer, 2011, Little Star, No. 3., and Sugar House Review, No. 3.

“Steven Cramer’s Clangings is a poetry not of madness, nor even the merely unspeakable, but instead irresistibly musical musings that reveal a command of language only achievable through fierce intelligence and the most piercing wit.  A brilliant revision of the clinical term that describes speech that sacrifices sense to sound, here one finds that sound itself—‘Two rhymes snagged between rhymes,/spun puns, all my blinds up in flames./The voices in noise are getting wise,’ as Cramer writes, indelibly – is indeed sense.  Poetry is healing here, the astonishing process itself laid out on these pages in all its utterly humane glory.”

Rafael  Campo, MD, Harvard Medical School, author of The Desire to Heal: A Doctor’s Education in Empathy, Identity, and Poetry

“‘Clangings’ are specialized modes of speech schizophrenics and manics use to express themselves, and identify themselves, and communicate, so desperately and wittily and forlornly and with such resourceful energy. That’s wonderfully registered here. But one gets to feel, reading it, that these diagnostically defined ways of using language are only extreme cases of how we all use language. Steven Cramer handles and contends with and profits from that extremely difficult, intensely compressed, stanzaic form, over and over, inventive all the way, hilarious a lot of the time, and scared, scary, distanced and objective, and very moving.  Clangings is a wild ride.”

—David Ferry

“Steven Cramer’s Clangings may well be the most disturbing book of verse ever written! Binding the warp of psychotic blurts into a poetic weft is one way to make all of language unbearably strange. But the poems here disturb and illuminate—that’s the magic.”

—Jean  McGarry, author of Dream Date and A Bad and Stupid Girl

“Humane from its aching heart to its flummoxed nether regions, whipsmart, formally acute but unfussy, & as entertaining as all hell—Steven Cramer’s new book shreds our airwaves with an inventiveness that is rare. Rare, as in once-in-a-lifetime-if-you’re-lucky rare. Most book-length ‘projects’ bore the pants off me. Not this one. No, no. This one balances perfectly on the knife-edge of improvisation and necessity. Clangings is magnificent. Word!”

—David  Rivard

Watch Clangings Book Trailer

Listen to a Podcast Selection from Clangings

Read Poems from Clangings Online

I hear  the dinner plates gossip | Massachusetts Poetry Festival “Poem of the Moment”

First I denied the noseeums . . . | Memorious

Back on my wings . . . | Memorious

I hear, in my phone . . . | Memorious

Black cats ring bells . . .  | Salamander

I’m speaking with my mother’s voice . . . | Salamander

Three Clangings | Slate

I shake my head, my right brain’s | Sugar House Review

So I left my apartment . . .  | Verse Daily

Okay, here’s what we did . . . | Verse Daily

Dear ears, my eyes keep paired for you | Verse Daily

Commentary on Clangings

Blog comment on Clangings | HomenDunRoamin

A Poem in My News Feed: Steven Cramer | Jet Fuel Review

Innovative Explorations into Music and Poetry, Review of Memorious Fall, 2011 | The Review Review

Countdown to the Books of 2012 with Rebecca Morgan Frank | Memoriousmag’s Blog

Ordering Information

Order Clangings directly from the publisher here.

Clangings cover artist: Johann Fournier