BTCF Blog | Poet Dan Albergotti Enjoys Productive Solitude of Cla

BTCF Blog

Poet Dan Albergotti Enjoys Productive Solitude of Clampitt Residency

By Darryl Gangloff / November 10, 2020 / Grantee Spotlight
Poet Dan Albergotti Enjoys Productive Solitude of Clampitt Residency

Dan Albergotti of South Carolina is the 28th recipient of the Amy Clampitt residency, which provides poets and literary scholars with the time and opportunity to focus exclusively on their work at Clampitt’s former home near Lenox.

The poet arrived in the Berkshires in July for his six-month stay in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. He quickly discovered that the socially distanced isolation is drastically increasing his productivity. 

“I have written more new poems than I have in the past four years combined,” he said via a Zoom call from the kitchen, sitting in front of shelves of Clampitt’s books. “You want the rest of the world to disappear when you experience a work of art, and that exact same state is necessary for its production. In our highly distracted age, it is amazing to be given the time to achieve that concentration. This residency is an incredible honor and the greatest blessing.”

Similar to Clampitt, who published her first full-length collection when she was 63, Albergotti began focusing on his poetry career “midway through life’s journey.” He enjoyed writing poems in high school, but chose to obtain a Ph.D. in English literature. Two “intersections with greatness” changed his path—attending a poetry workshop taught by poet laureate and “Deliverance” author James Dickey, and becoming friends with two-time poet laureate Natasha Trethewey. Inspired, he returned to graduate school to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. He now holds the Kearns Palmetto Professorship at Coastal Carolina University, where he enjoyed nurturing his students’ interests in writing.

He is the author of two full-length collections of poems: “The Boatloads,” a 2007 Poulin Prize winner, and “Millennial Teeth,” which won the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition. He has also released two poetry chapbooks, “The Use of the World” and “Of Air and Earth,” and published individual poems in numerous journals and magazines. 

Twenty years ago, he wrote “Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale,” which is part of “The Boatloads” collection. The poem has received renewed interest during the pandemic due to its theme of isolation. An artist from Australia created a stop-motion video for it in April, and Albergotti is glad to see his work has helped readers find comfort in times of hardship. [Watch the video below.]

“My poems are chameleon-esque,” he says. “They change a lot, but I have my obsessions, like the relative puniness of our consciousness and existence. I am a skeptic who is drawn to the metaphors and narratives of religious tradition. Thematically, I’m drawn to the question of where we are in the grand and different void, and the concept of our mortality.”

He has even created his own version of a sonnet, which he calls the Albergonnet. Shaped like an arrow, it rhymes in couplets and increases and decreases in syllables, line by line.

Albergotti has written more than enough during his residency to assemble a third full-length collection, but for now he is writing individual poems until he heads back to South Carolina in December. “I want to keep myself as productive as possible,” he said. “It’s so amazing to have this time to feed my mind.”

 

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