Carcanet Press
Quote of the Day
It is impossible to imagine literary life in Britain without Carcanet.
William Boyd

Zoology

Gillian Clarke

Zoology Cover
RRP: GBP£ 7.99
Available
eBook (EPUB)
ISBN: 978 1 784102 17 3
Categories: 21st Century, Welsh, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: August 2017
120 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (Kindle), eBook (PDF)
Digital access available through Exact Editions
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Zoology is Gillian Clarke’s ninth Carcanet collection, following her T. S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted Ice. The collection opens with a glimpse of hare, whose ‘heartbeat halts at the edge of the lawn’, holding us ‘in the planet of its stare’. Within this millisecond of mutual arrest, a well of memories draws us into the Welsh landscape of the poet’s childhood: her parents, the threat of war, the richness of nature as experienced by a child. In the second of the collection’s six parts we find ourselves in the Zoology Museum, whose specimens stare back from their cases: the Snowdon rainbow beetle, the marsh fritillary, the golden lion tamarin. ‘Will we be this beautiful when we pass into the silence, behind glass?’ In later sections the poet invites us to Hafod Y Llan, the Snowdonian nature reserve rich in Alpine flowers and abandoned mineshafts, ‘where darkness laps at the brink of a void deep as cathedrals’. Clarke captures a complete cycle of seasons on the land, its bounty and hardship, from the spring lamb ‘birthed like a fish / steaming in moonlight’ to the ewe bearing her baby ‘in the funeral boat of her body’. The poems tap into a powerful, feminist empathy that sees beyond differentiations of species to an understanding deeper than knowledge, something subterranean, running through the land. Zoology closes with a series of elegies to friends, poets and peers, and poems remembering victims of war and tyrannical regimes. ‘Like a bird picking over / the September lawn, / I gather their leaves. / This is what silence is.’ Then our hare, that ‘flight of sinew and gold’, is spotted one last time: ‘a silvering wind crossing a field, / two ears alert in a gap / then gone’.
    Born in Cardiff, Gillian Clarke is a poet, playwright, editor, broadcaster, lecturer and translator (from Welsh). She edited the Anglo-Welsh Review from 1975 to 1984, and has taught creative writing in primary and secondary schools and at university level. She is president of Ty Newydd, the writers' centre in North Wales ... read more
    Awards won by Gillian Clarke Winner, 2011 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
    Winner, 2012 Wilfred Owen Award
    'Clarke has a direct line to the natural world. She paints the Welsh landscape without idealising or romanticising, and in the process shows that nature doesn't need to be elevated to inspire a quiet awe.'
    Financial Times Best Books of 2017


    'Always openings. Perceptions never alien to the new. No borders enclose her ideas. They are allowed to roam in her meticulous phrasing. And yet her greatest strength is, paradoxically, her moments of both closure and trapped moments of insight delivered to us grateful readers with faithful intelligence€.'
    Herald Scotland


    'Clarke is a singer among poets, a celebrant of landscape, trees, insects, dead ewes, a writer whose rhythms and vocabulary seem tenaciously rooted in the traditions of the place of their origin.'
    The Tablet
    Praise for Gillian Clarke 'Clarke has a direct line to the natural world. She paints the Welsh landscape without idealising or romanticising, and in the process shows that nature doesn't need to be elevated to inspire a quiet awe.'
    Financial Times Best Books of 2017


    'Always openings. Perceptions never alien to the new. No borders enclose her ideas. They are allowed to roam in her meticulous phrasing. And yet her greatest strength is, paradoxically, her moments of both closure and trapped moments of insight delivered to us grateful readers with faithful intelligence€.'
    Herald Scotland


    'Clarke is a singer among poets, a celebrant of landscape, trees, insects, dead ewes, a writer whose rhythms and vocabulary seem tenaciously rooted in the traditions of the place of their origin.'
    The Tablet
    'Gillian Clarke’s outer and inner landscapes are the sources from which her poetry draws its strengths.'
    Carol Ann Duffy, Guardian
     'Gillian Clarke'€™s [poems] ring with lucidity and power... Clarke'€™s work is both personal and archetypal, built out of language as concrete as it is musical.'
    Anne Stevenson, Times Literary Supplement
    'Gillian Clarke is one of the most widely respected and deeply loved poets in the world.'
    Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate
     'In Ice Gillian Clarke explores memory and identity through a series of winter landscapes.'
    Adam Newey, The Guardian, 1st December 2012
    'Clarke's mellifluous new collection [A Recipe for Water] is her first since her appointment as Wales's national poet in 2008. The drop of water on the tongue, she tells us, 'was the first word in the world', and it's through water that these poems give up their stories: history is written into the Arctic's ice; myths well up from river sources; the currents on the ocean wash culture and heritage onto our shores. Watery collections have poured forth from the pens of poets from Sean O'Brien to Maura Dooley in recent years; anticipation is high for Clarke's contribution to the pool'.
    Sarah Crown, the Guardian, 3 January 2009
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog New Poetries VII: Introducing Theophilus Kwek read more New Poetries VII: Introducing Andrew Latimer read more New Poetries VII: Introducing Lisa Kelly read more New Poetries VII: Introducing Laura Scott read more 50 years after the death of Vernon Watkins read more Nadine Gordimer Memorial Lecture read more
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2017 Carcanet Press Ltd