Gordon Clapp

Emmy-winning, Tony-nominated Actor

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • Robert Frost and This Verse Business
  • An Evening with Gordon Clapp


“The poet lives and breathes in Clapp’s performance.” —Lowell Sun

“When Clapp walks on to the…stage, he is fully Robert Frost.” —Nashua Telegraph

“Anyone who cares about this great poet-or his work-will want to catch this memorable performance.” —Hub Review

Drawn directly from Robert Frost’s lectures, interviews, and letters, This Verse Business is both an illuminating portrait of the man and an entertaining distillation of one poet’s body of work and his writing methods. Gordon Clapp brings Frost to life in this captivating testament to the intrinsic value of poetry and the arts. Audiences will leave moved and inspired.

Perhaps the most widely read poet of the twentieth century in the United States, Robert Frost returns to the stage in A.M. Dolan’s, This Verse Business. Played by Emmy winning actor Gordon Clapp (NYPD Blue’s Detective Greg Medavoy), Frost’s poetry is heard afresh; and his great wit witnessed once more in Clapp’s critically acclaimed performance.

For fifty years, Robert Frost “barded” around the country giving “talks,” performing his poems, and sharing his beliefs and “wild surmises” on religion, science, conservatives, radicals, rhyme, free-verse-whatever was on his mind. This talent for talk only added to the unprecedented fame he achieved. The first poet ever to recite at a presidential inaugural (JFK’s), he quipped, “What began in obscurity is ending in a blaze of publicity.” Partly based on these public appearances, This Verse Business not only gives us Frost, the rascally wit of the platform, but also Frost at home, the private man alluding to his family and speaking about his relationship with art.

www.thisversebusiness.com 


Best known as the Emmy-winning actor who charmed audiences of 12 season as Detective Greg Medavoy on NYPD Blue, for which he received an Emmy award, Gordon Clapp has enjoyed a distinguished career in television, film, and theater. in 1979, his career in film and television was launched with a leading role in the John Sayles cult hit, The Return of the Secaucus Seven. in 2005, he received a Tony nomination for his role as Dave Moss in the all-star Broadway revival of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Since 2008, he has been working with playwright A. M. Dolan on the play This Verse Business, a one-man show about poet Robert Frost. 

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Robert Frost: This Verse Business by A.M. Dolan (excerpt)

FROST

…I was sayin’ last night…I just discovered why I like couplets. They’re a symbol, an outward symbol, of the two things that I bring together to make an idea. It’s very important, see, that you be in on…the coupling of thoughts. It’s really the secret of my life—my love of puttin’ this and that together. And you, you don’t know me, if you don’t know how interested I am in couplets…and making rhymes.

          (a twinkle)

I’m a matchmaker.

           He moves to the side of the lectern.

For instance, after years and years of this question of good and evil, I whittle it down to a couplet:

It is from having stood contrasted
That good and bad so long have lasted.

That knocks Plato for a loop. After years, pop goes the weasel.

          He goes to the water table.

People must think, looking from the outside, they must think you’re restricting yourself terribly by the rhymes because there’s only three or four kinds of a rhyme. I had to stop—years ago I had to stop in a very terrible poem, tragic poem: She took—

She took a second-hand revolver—uh—
The universal problem solver—

—but I couldn’t find the third one for that…so I gave up…going on.

          He drinks and sits.

And there are limits that way. But I don’t care how deep things go. I have to—I want to couple my way along into it, ya’ know. The irresistibility of it like a street song—something catchy. No poem is anything to me unless it’s catchy, no matter how great it is. And of course the marvel of it—Shakespeare is full of it, you know—lines that you can’t get out of your head. Some of them to your grief. One of my old ones that I’ve had lots of interest in and…trouble with—it’s to the tune of “Ring Around the Rosie”—I won’t sing it for you—but it goes like this…

We dance round in a ring, and suppose
But the secret sits in the middle and knows.

Let me say that again to you—I like having written it so much.

We dance round in a ring, and suppose
But the secret sits in the middle and knows.

And one of the troubles I’ve had with that, some radical friend of mine, years ago, said to me once, “I do not like that couplet of yours.” I said, “What’s the matter with it?” and, she said, “Sits?” I said, “Sits, yes, sits. Sits in the middle and knows.” And she didn’t want to sit there. She wanted to progress there. She was a progressive.

          (pauses)

One other one…I never really finished it. It’s my only free-verse poem. I liked it so much I put it into the new book. And let me tell you how I happened to say it. After an evening of talking the way I talk, like this, you know…a lady said to me, “Now, Mr. Frost, tell us which you are really…conservative or radical?” And, see, again—up against it. And I, I just said,

I never dared be radical when young
For fear it would make me conservative when old.

And I left her hung-up there…in California. I think she’s still hanging there. And you say that’s just a mean trick—but it isn’t. See, I like old radicals and young conservatives—just to prove it isn’t a matter of the way the blood is pumped…