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The Clerk's Tale: Poems

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In a recent double fiction issue, The New Yorker devoted the entire back page to a single poem, "The Clerk's Tale," by Spencer Reece. The poet who drew such unusual attention has a surprising background: for many years he has worked for Brooks Brothers, a fact that lends particular nuance to the title of his collection. The Clerk's Tale pays homage not only to Chaucer but ...more
Paperback, 65 pages
Published April 4th 2004 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  184 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Mixed feelings about this collection. The things I liked I strongly liked. But the things that irked me strongly irked me.

My favourite poems in the collection are the poems that best demonstrate Reece's remarkable use of metaphor and simile. In fact, this is what I liked best about the poems in this collection: the poet's use of metaphor and simile. I haven't been as impressed by a poet's use of metaphor and simile since reading Karen Solie...
. . . Clothed
in low-rent autobiographies we slouch to
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The poet is a friend and knowing him as a person adds a different understanding of the tales he spins. Wonderfully done and worthy of the praise it has received.
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great first book of poems. I particularly liked the title poem and the "Florids Ghazals." Very well done.
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who loves poetry
Shelves: sarahs-group
Incredibly gorgeous personal, lyrics full of contrasts: spare and lush, baroque and plain-spoken. Will go down as one of the best books of poetry of the decade.
Bcoghill Coghill
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Portions that resonated with me. It is a book I will revisit many times. Right now, I intended to reread Reece's second book again.
C. Varn
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Spencer Reece's style is rich and metaphor and allusion--indeed the title of the collection is a reference to both Reece's tenure at Brooks Brothers and to Chaucer--but Reece has an unusual gift for both stoic measure and dialogue to allow his poetry to portray a range of believable characters. Reece's use of form here is particularly effective, his several ghazals are particularly moving. While there are moments of this collection that seem a little too indebted to T.S. Eliot, it's a very beaut ...more
Aidan Owen
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2015
A meticulously crafted, often moving collection from Spencer Reece (his first, actually). The poems are shot through with absence and loss and often read as fractured. Sometimes that effect left me feeling alienated from the poem, but sometimes it was heartrending, as in the poem "Interlude":

We are two men on a park bench
in Palm Beach oblivious to the two men

who start their truck with that boy
from the bar inside dragging him

in the dark to the fence strapping him
with a rope to a post in Laramie,

Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-class
This book of poetry introduce me to forms of poetry (like the ghazal) that I'd never heard of and now absolutely adore. It also contains such a perfect balance of straightforward, no-nonsense, little description poetry with the type of wonderful, flowing, ornate descriptions that I absolutely love and adore. Spencer Reece is an exquisite poet. The poem "Ghazals For Spring" is one of the best poems I have read in a very long time, despite how long it is. I really have to read more of this poet.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This was the infamous 'back page of the New Yorker' poem, the one that was hyped, the one that got all the fancy back cover blurbs. It deserved it. The short version: His sense of place was impeccable and varied. His risky choice to include three ghazal sequences, based on the ancient Persian form, were riveting. Rare enough to feel it, so it should be mentioned: I loved everything about this book.
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Spencer Reece came to write and present at Lesley University when I was in my MFA program, and I loved his writing then. This is his first book of poems, and I'm still reading his latest collection. The complexity and loveliness of every image, whether it is animal, geographical, or emotional, is simply stunning.
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poets
Probably the best "first book" contest winner I've ever read. Classical style, emotional depth. Authentic voice.
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I went to Spencer's reading earlier this month, and this is the best poetry I've heard/read in a long time.
Stephanie Schultz
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
My favorite poem was Loxahatchee. It felt very different from the rest of the collection and was more deeply rooted in the natural world than in the narrator's self.
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Classy, honest, focused. This book is one of my all time favorites. Reece has an amazing knack for inhabiting a place and offering it to the reader with obsessive poetic clarity.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved these poems and recurring themes of place and impermanence. The Midwestern, Minnesota connections were wonderful.
Timothy Juhl
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I know I probably should find more to like in this debut collection of poetry, it won a couple of awards and the New Yorker devoted an entire back page to the title poem (which is the best piece in the collection).

It's very clear now that I'm drawn to more linear, narrative voices in poetry. Certainly, The Clerk's Tale (the poem) fits this frame, so too did 'Cape Cod', but much of the remaining poems, I'm sure lend to some sort of brilliance, but I found the voice and rhythm too repetitive and m
Jan 08, 2011 rated it liked it
His first book of poems, won the Breadmaker's prize or some such thing. Calls Deborah Keenan a savior. Reece was assistant manager at a Brooks Brothers in MOA, and the title poem chronicles that, as well as alludes to Chaucer. "Sometimes the snow falls like rice"-- this line actually made it into my dream one night. Good poems.
jojo the burlesque poetess
my current mentor whom i madly adore. i'm so excited for the work we're going to be doing after admiring him since '04...and he's having me do the craziest/greatest exercises...turning poems into menus and screenplay formats of dialogues...guh! LOVE IT. and everyone should read this. especially the 'bestiary' section...
Sep 10, 2012 added it
Shelves: poetry
bought at Barner Books September 2012

There is an artlessness to Reece's poems, in that he makes it appear as if no effort went into their creation. I need to mull over the collection longer before writing more.
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An uncommonly virtuosic first book of poetry from a heretofore unheard of poet.
Amanda Carver
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Even when Reece is writing about Florida, I feel like he takes me places I have never been.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Oh God so beautiful--and even better when he reads it. Gorgeous.
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
read it cover to cover. read it again.
Clyde Ensslin
rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2013
rated it really liked it
Sep 18, 2010
Jude Alford
rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2014
Jim LaMontagne
rated it it was amazing
Mar 04, 2015
John W. Evans
rated it really liked it
Dec 03, 2013
Jerome Ellison Murphy
rated it it was ok
Mar 29, 2012
rated it it was amazing
May 02, 2010
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