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Roots Home

Essays and a Journal

Gillian Clarke

Cover of Roots Home by Gillian Clarke
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Categories: 21st Century, Welsh, Women
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (224 pages)
(Pub. Mar 2021)
9781800170780
£14.99 £13.49
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(Pub. Mar 2021)
9781800170797
£11.99 £10.79
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2022

    Wales's best-loved contemporary poet, one of the major poets of our endangered environment, returns to prose in Roots Home.

    As in At the Source (2008), she does something unusual with form. She combines two elements. Seven vivid essay-meditations, informed by (among others) Dylan Thomas, George Herbert and W. B. Yeats, explore the ways in which poetry bears witness to what is and what might be, presence and transcendence in a threatened world. The meditations precede a journal that runs from January 2018 to December 2020, concluding with a poem entitled 'Winter Solstice' - three years of living close to animals, mountains, and (in particular) trees, in human intimacy and lockdown. 'Listen! They are whispering / now while the world talks, / and the ice melts, / and the seas rise. / Look at the trees!...'

    This is necessary work. As she declares in 'Why I Write', the first meditation in Roots Home: 'Morning begins with my journal. I write in it most days, though not every day. It is friend and listener, to record, remember, rage and rhapsodise, a place for requiem and celebration. Words hold detail which might be forgotten - the way the hare halted as it crossed the lawn, the field where a rainbow touched down across the valley, the different voices of wind, or water, the close and distant territorial arias of May blackbirds.'
    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 Commended, 2024 A Poetry Book Society Spring Recommendation
    (The Silence)
    Short-listed, 2022 The Wales Book of the Year
    (Roots Home)
    Long-listed, 2020 The Laurel Prize for Ecopoetry (Zoology) Winner, 2011 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
    Winner, 2012 Wilfred Owen Award
    Praise for Gillian Clarke 'The Silence is not concerned only with the pandemic. Gillian Clarke's writing frequently offsets her awareness of the naturalness and depth of her roots in rural Wales with the sense of strangeness which comes from having English as her "mother-tongue". These meditations are delicately handled in the collection, and particularly striking in the context of environmental catastrophe. What now threatens the landscape which Clarke has farmed and nurtured, in life as in verse, are shadows which roll across the globe, turning, for many people, the possibility of belonging anywhere into wishful thinking. The Silence is full of poems which remind us of the importance of place, and the demand of its words and silences to be listened to.'

    Carol Rumens, The Guardian Poem of the Week

      'There is a numinous quality to this book, a kind of spiritual attention which reveals, by silence and contemplation, the wondrous.'

    Stephen Sexton, Irish Times

    'This tug between the factual and the more mystical world beyond is at the heart of the collection. Science can describe the Land but not how love of particular places works within the human spirit...a richly varied and substantial collection'

    D A Prince, the North

    '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
     '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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