The Alchemy of Opposites,
poems by Clifton Snider

My longest book of poems (144 pages),
The Alchemy of Opposites contains all the poems
that I wish to preserve written since
1992 to its publication in 2000.

Although a favorite topic is the natural world
(animals, plants, earth, the cosmos),
I also appropriate images from various
mythologies (including that of Native Americans,
particularly the Zuni people, the ancient Nordic
peoples, and the Bible),  and I write about people
I never knew personally (Christina Rossetti,
Klaus Nomi, Sylvester, Freddie Mercury,
Jackie Kennedy Onassis, River Phoenix, Selena,
Leni Riefenstahl, Mickey Mantle, Roy Rogers, and Edgar Degas).
Most of the poetry is centered in my own experience, my
travels in New Mexico, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Europe,
my loss of friends, a brother, and a former lover to AIDS, murder,
and suicide, my personal search for roots, love, and meaning--
in other words, for transcendence.

The prehistoric picture of a bison with its
sort of double head (the head of a second bison
overlaps the head of the first one) from France's
Cave of Niaux on the cover is an image of the same
bison I saw at the Cave of Niaux, and the subject
of the final poem in my book. What I experienced
there in the dark of that deep and enormous cave
was a primal, spiritual experience. I hope
it reinforces my central theme:
the possibility of wholeness from
disparate sources, even if only
for one burning moment.

The March-April 2001 issue of the Small Press Review proclaims the following about The Alchemy of Opposites:

    Clifton Snider has been writing and publishing for over 25 years to establish
    himself as one of American's best . . . contemporary poets.  The Alchemy of Opposites . . .
    stands as his most outstanding book to date . . . [with] poignant poetry which is highly crafted
    and easy to read.  But despite the massive amount of loss dealt with here, the book is strangely
    comic, even optimistic and upbeat in many ways.

--Eva von Kesselhausen
Click here to read the Full Text.

The International Gay & Lesbian Review, published by the University of Southern California, says that "The Alchemy of Opposites is Clifton Snider's . . . best work in verse, his most personal and moving"; and the reviewer admires "Snider's emotional directness and the admirable accessibility of his imagery. . . . The Alchemy of Opposites, indeed contains outcroppings of pure gold." 

          --review by Arnold T. Schwab

To read the full text of the review, click on the title of the journal above.

James Benedict writes: "Written on the premise that profound experience can be found wherever we are, if only we care to look, [The Alchemy of Opposites is] . . . a sequence of strong poems dealing with loss interspersed with nature poems, poems on art and artists, poems of love and friendship [and] spirit of place . . . .  Snider's theoretical and practical focus on alchemy as a vessel of healing and individuation is part of the tradition of alchemical revival initiated by James Joyce in Finnegan's Wake, and explored by Patrick White, Vladimir Nabokov, Gabriel Marquez, etc.  In this chronicle of spiritual work related to loss and grief Snider's stamina shines through every poem . . . ."

                                                                                           --The Chiron Review

Click here to read the an updated version of Benedict's review from the online journal, Gay Today.

Chiron Review Press
Michael Hathaway, Editor/Publisher
522 E. South Avenue
St. John, KS 67576-2212
or go to Chiron Review Press.

Author photo by Tim Fischer.

Comments about Clifton Snider's other books of poetry:

Jesse Comes Back (1976):
Clifton Snider's book of poems, Jesse Comes Back, impressed me very much. It is very seldom that I . . . can recommend ["a book by a young poet"] as highly as this one.
--Christopher Isherwood

Snider is one of our very few young poets to make a happy marriage of scholarship and imagination.
--Gerald Locklin, Small Press Review

Bad Smoke  Good Body (1980):
Bad Smoke  Good Body is a beautiful and powerful little book.
--William Meredith, former Poetry Consultant to The Library of Congress

In Bad Smoke  Good Body . . . Snider turns to powerfully evoked, emotional images. . . .
--Leo Mailman, Maelstrom Review

Jesse and His Son (1982):
. . . just the right amount of pustule, dope and transcendentalism fused.
--Robert Peters, author of Hunting the Snark

Edwin: A Character in Poems (1984):
Clifton Snider has chosen to depict his character, Edwin, with a clean story-like style of imagist opinions rather than narrative involvements. His work becomes insightful and evocative when the images get bawdy and he allows his superb sense of humor to come into play.
--Jenifer Tener, Electrum

Blood & Bones (1988):
This volume . . . completes, with the dropping of the "Jesse" and "Edwin" personae, [Snider's] transition from modern to postmodern artist. The confidence he now exhibits renders accessible to artistic use a rich though often painful personal history.
--Gerald Locklin, Western American Literature

This book does not paint a pretty picture, and the squeamish should steer clear. But Mr. Snider is a definite talent, a unique voice, and an original thinker.
--Eva Von Kesselhausen, Blue Light Review

Southern California poet Clifton Snider explores the unexpected, the near tragic, and the adventurous.  In three sections, he writes of a trip through Europe in the '70s, of his sudden hospitalization with a bleeding ulcer, and of his return to travel in Europe in the mid '80s.  Poems of the first trip are soaked with the blood oozing into his guts; poems of the second trip reflect good health, a good eye, and maturity.  The contrast is appealing; the poems, beguiling.
--Richard Labonte, The Advocate

Impervious to Piranhas (1989):
Snider writes with an extreme economy of words, and focuses most of his book on one subject: pain felt by people. . . . he does get at some gleaming insights. . . .
--Factsheet Five

The Age of the Mother (1992):
In these beautifully spare words, Snider weaves personal mantras of birth, death, and transcendence. He announces the return of the Goddess after centuries of patriarchal dominance.
--Glenn Bach, Small Press Review

Out of . . . profound insight and spiritual wisdom he . . . has created an offering, a magnificent poetic vision, a prayer-book for the coming New Age.
--Marilyn Johnson, Pearl

Clifton Snider is a brave man. . . . he is also a shaman, a journeyer, a traveler who sees past and present interleaving and co-existing. . . . These poems touch something deep and almost forgotten so that you have to remember and know as if for the first time.
--Richard Lee, author of As Is and The Circumstances of Birds

My new book of poems, Aspens in the Wind, is now available from Chiron Review Press.

To read a few of the poems in The Alchemy of Opposites, click  on the following:
Art and Poetry (for "Aspen in the Wind").
The Cave of Niaux.
Le Mont Saint-Michel.
Mountain Lion.
My Selena.
See also New Age.

To read more about The Age of the Mother and my book of Jungian literary criticism, click on
Poetry and Criticism.

And if you wish to read about my earlier books, go to
Clifton Snider, Poet.

Read about my novels, Wrestling with Angels, Bare Roots, and, Loud Whisper.

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Page last revised: 29 August 2009