Stephen Ellison

Renowned Poet, Biographer Tom Clark Hit and Killed by Vehicle in Berkeley

World-renowned Berkeley poet and author Tom Clark died after being struck by a vehicle while walking Friday night, according to authorities.

Clark, 77, was listed in stable condition after the collision on The Alameda near Marin Avenue around 8:40 p.m., but his condition worsened after he was taken to the hospital, police said. His death was confirmed by the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau.

Clark "combined the diverse roles of poet, biographer, novelist, dramatist, reviewer and sportswriter during his writing career," according to a biography of him posted by the Poetry Foundation.

He authored dozens of books of poetry, a book co-written with former baseball pitching star Mark Fidrych, and a history of the Oakland A's, according to the Poetry Foundation. He wrote poems about such A's legends as Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Bert Campaneris.

Clark's interest in poetry blossomed at the University of Michigan, according to the biography, and he earned an advanced degree at the University of Cambridge, where he was strongly influenced by the work of literary legend Ezra Pound.

While in England, he hitchhiked with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. After being recommended to publisher George Plimpton by a former teacher, Clark served for 10 years as poetry editor of the prestigious Paris Review.

"He was himself a singularly adept, seemingly effortless, absolutely exemplary, lyric poet, author of numerous volumes (too much to mention here)," said a tribute to Clark posted by the Allen Ginsberg Project. "We're still stunned and shocked."

He also penned a biography of Beat author Jack Kerouac.

Born in Chicago, Clark had been married since 1968 to Angelica Heinegg.

The driver involved in the collision is cooperating with police, Berkeley police Officer Byron White said, and there are no indications the person was impaired.

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