claire donato


25 Points: Burial

by Claire Donato
Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2013
104 pages / $14.00 buy from Tarpaulin Sky








1. For reasons both Biblical and practical, we must “let go the dead.” But “persons never completely let go the dead.”

2. The main characters of Donato’s debut never leave the side of the dead. Father, dead, belongs here. The unnamed woman is describing as checking-in to the morgue. She’s there to stay, also, for a while.

3. Burial is concerned with the strangeness of death, something lost in its ubiquity, until we see it close. At another funeral near the start of the book, the congregation is described as “yawning, unable to recognize the weight of the ghost.” Mouths open, they might as well have been singing.

4. Donato’s heavy usage of commas, in the vein of Peter Markus (We Make Mud) and William Gass (“The Pedersen Kid”) before her, is almost a way of stalling all death.

5. Father is dead. His capitalized self stands like a tree amongst the brush of other words.

6. “Father was a man. He taught lessons in his language, and also raised his voice. ‘A lovely day to go fishing,’ he said. ‘The water is frozen,’ he said. Then he drowned in the lake.”

7. Burial is a grief-dream, an attempt to un-sew pain from experience and to reveal it in language.

8. “Mind’s a confused, tangled skein.” Particularly when it is pulled by pain.

9. “And the doe—the poor, female doe—collapsed at the scene. Two cracks rang out. He shot her. He shot her dead. ‘A lovely day to go fishing,’ he said, yet before he could indulge in his reward—field dress the damn deer and pay tribute to his success, his all-time best, grand aptitude for chase—he drowned in the lake.” Father’s final moments return, as grief does, often in different permutations. What’s the point of language if it can’t unmake and remake?

10. There is the woman, and Father, and Groundskeeper, who “kneels beside her bright yellow bucket,” and is the keeper and cleaner of these dead. READ MORE >

July 11th, 2013 / 12:09 pm


The great Bill Hayward–film-maker, regular NOON photography contributor, all-around badass, and occasional collaborator of mine–has been staging his ongoing multi-disciplinary work, The Intimacies Project, from the Northwest wing of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The project went up on the 20th and lasts till the 29th. Now Bill’s got a couple of poets–illustrious poet-couple, Claire Donato and Jeff Johnson–blogging the experience live from the site, mostly in verse. From the site:

THE INTIMACIES PROJECT at 41st Street & 8th Avenue is a daring multi-media event about relationships and the impossibility of love.  This visual art installation and live performance is a rare look at the danger of intimacy expressed through dance, music, film, images, and audience participation. The installation incites individuals to focus on emotion while they are in motion. Commuters and passersby are invited to participate by sharing their thoughts and feelings in response to questions about relationships and love.

is “yinzer” the Pittsburgh word for “river” ?


There’s a new issue of The New Yinzer out. TNY is a Pittsburgh-based online lit journal, and the summer edition is guest-edited by Claire Donato, a poet whom we’ve loved on here before. (1 love, 2 love.) It’s a very strong issue, featuring several essays and selections of visual art (see Matchbox Museum piece, above). Here’s a taste of what’s inside (the journal is designed as a split screen with the TOC on the left and content on the right, obviating the need for linking to individual pieces)-

Katy Henriksen  (essay) – “Handmade Books: Or, My Answer to an Increasingly Digital and Mass-Manufactured World.” A good bookbinding awl has a rounded, wooden handle for cradling in the palm of your hand and a sharp point at the end of the metal rod for piercing. For the Cannibal stitch we needed four holes in each signature, two an inch apart an inch from the top, and two an inch apart an inch from the bottom, making the total of holes punched for the issue exactly 4,000.

Brian Foley (poem) – “Older at Night.” It could be a photograph / We both live in.

Claire Donato & Jeff T. Johnson (curated gallery) – “Matchbox Museum.” Being resolute against all others in going forward, being not the moss, being the mess side by side. We’re current.

Matthew Savoca (essay) – “A Zen Essay in Which Nothing is Accomplished.” I want to get as many online literature writers as possible to buy Powerball tickets together, in the same way that many business people who work at offices do.

Blake Butler (short-short) – “Accident.” Her gums and tongue were scorched with symbols.

Ryan Manning (photographs) – “Sky Polaroids.”

And, oh yeah, I’m in it too- a few erasure poems and a short “thesis statement” on the practice of erasure. But my favorite thing in the issue, at least thus far, are Ryan’s photos.



Uncategorized / 9 Comments
August 13th, 2009 / 9:12 am


New from Cannibal Books! Claire Donato!

Someone Else’s Body
by Claire Donato
32 pages, hand sewn

Read sample poems here:

Claire is a badass. She knows about rooms and hues. She knows how to say it. Here are a few lines from the Harp and Altar poem:

Tonight, a man on the phone poses an inquiry re: two boxes of books by Leon Trotsky.

I cover the mouthpiece, laugh with my co-worker.

Dear Sir or Madam: I am stunned by how easy it is to be a Very Bad Person.

This is one I am excited to be buying. The whole Cannibal subscription is a thing to behold, methinks.


Author News & Presses / 3 Comments
January 21st, 2009 / 3:30 pm

Cannibal Books announces ’09 list, subscription option, and that they’re maybe throwing a party

Apparently a lot of big, cool stuff happening for Cannibal this year. Off the top of my head, I’m excited about the Claire Donato and Jared White chapbooks because I think both these cats are rad. Rad cats, they are. (You might remember that I blogged a poem of Claire’s when I wrote about Harp & Altar #5. For some instant Jared White-ification, check out this long great essay on Jack Spicer he wrote for Open Letters Monthly.)

But then there’s the cats I don’t know about, and only assume are rad. For example, Sommer Browning, who hosts a great reading series here in the city, and is super funny and fun to hang out with, but I don’t know her own work very well, so this’ll be my big chance. I also don’t know too too much about Shane Jones, except that he has a lot of fans among the writers/readers here on Giant–in particular I recall that Kendra was a huge partisan for Jones’s now-sold-out Greying Ghost chapbook, I Will Unfold You With my Hairy Hands–so I guess a lot of people are excited for that one and I further guess that if you’re excited I’m excited, because friends help each other learn and grow. Anyway, click through for the full press release from my favorite wife-husband duo in poetry:


Presses / 2 Comments
January 9th, 2009 / 11:30 am

new issue: Harp & Altar #5

Poetry by Stephanie Anderson, Jessica Baron, Julia Cohen, Claire Donato, Elizabeth Sanger, Peter Jay Shippy, and G.C. Waldrep; prose by Joshua Cohen, Evelyn Hampton, Lily Hoang, Peter Markus, and Bryson Newhart; Patrick Morrissey on John Taggart and Matthew Henriksen on Anywhere; Michael Newton’s gallery reviews; and artwork by A.L. Steiner + robbinschilds.


from the Henriksen piece:  >>A curious aspect of some modern and contemporary poetry resides in an odd rhetorical device through which the poet asserts an axiomatic phrase that is neither fully literal nor ironic, but embodies a certitude in the reality of the statement. Roethke thus announces: “An eye comes out of the wave. / The journey from the flesh is longest. / A rose sways least.”<<


“There are apologies I am too” by Claire Donato (complete poem)


The night you leave, I write tourist across my stomach with regard

to everything I’ve ever done. Later, I read cities could conserve by

shutting off their lights. There are apologies I am too

close to understand. How I pass my days? Try to go to sleep. No

room can numb someone with blue across her back.

Or, replace everything that’s lost. You have to pass the time.


Uncategorized / 7 Comments
December 19th, 2008 / 11:27 am