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Making the Beds for the Dead
ISBN: 978 1 857547 37 5
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: April 2004
220 x 140 x 8 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle)
1657. The house in Delft.
Windfalls in a bowl.
I see her wake, take an apple
in one hand, a knife in the other.
The apple has fallen from the tree in Eden.
They are mapping the round earth,
discovering geography, astronomy,
She holds the world in her hand...
from 'A Woman Sleeping at a Table, by Vermeer'
The title sequence of Making the Beds for the Dead charts the journey of a virus in 'the plague year'. Come from outer space, it travels - on a fox's paw, the beak of a kite and a crow and a buzzard - into the very heart of our lives. The poet includes personal, verses and stories from farmers in her family and neighbourhood.
The open structure allows the Gillian Clarke to include her seven rock poems, written for the National Botanic Garden of Wales; her poems based in archaeology; and her poems about war, and urban violence. There is an instinctive and a deliberate unity of theme and idiom in this book. The poet remains true to her landscapes and her nation. The sequence 'The Physicians of Myddfai', nine sonnets for Aberglasne, and much else is included in this characteristically generous and engaging volume by Wales' best-loved poet.
Awards won by Gillian Clarke Winner, 2011 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Winner, 2012 Wilfred Owen Award
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.'
'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 Clarkeâs 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
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