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Gillian Clarke

Ice by Gillian Clarke
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Categories: 21st Century, Welsh, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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Paperback (64 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2012)
£9.95 £8.96
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(Pub. Oct 2012)
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Polar

    Snowlight and sunlight, the lake glacial.
    Too bright to open my eyes
    in the dazzle and doze
    of a distant January afternoon.

    It’s long ago and the house naps in the plush silence
    of a house asleep, like absence,
    I’m dreaming on the white bear’s shoulder,
    paddling the slow hours, my fingers in his fur.

    His eyes are glass, each hair a needle of light.
    He’s pegged by his claws to the floor like a shirt on the line.
    He is a soul. He is what death is. He is transparency,
    a loosening floe on the sea.

    But I want him alive.
    I want him fierce
    with belly and breath and growl and beating heart,
    I want him dangerous,

    I want to follow him over the snows
    between the immaculate earth and now,
    between the silence and the shot that rang
    over the ice at the top of the globe,

    when the map of the earth was something we knew by heart,
    and they had not shot the bear,
    had not loosed the ice,
    had not, had not…
    In Ice Gillian Clarke turns to the real winters of 2009 and 2010. In their extremity they redefined all the seasons for her. Nature asserted itself and renewed the environment for the imagination. The poem ‘Polar’ is the poet’s point de repère, evoking a polar-bear rug she had as a child and here resurrects in a spirit of personal and ecological longing that becomes a creative act. She lives with the planet, its seasons and creatures, in a joyful, anxious communion.

    The book also includes the ‘asked for’ and commissioned poems, and the Guardian spreads Clarke has written during her time as National Poet of Wales (2008 onwards). She follows in the rich millennium-old Welsh tradition of occasional writing going back to the first-known named British poets Aneirin and Taliesin in the sixth century.
    Advent Concert 
    Ice Music 
    Home for Christmas 
    White Nights 
    In the Bleak Midwinter 
    Hunting the Wren 
    Carol of the Birds 
    Freeze 1947 
    Freeze 2010 
    New Year 
    The Dead after the Thaw 
    Who Killed the Swan? 
    The Newport Ship 
    Nant Mill 
    In Wern Graveyard 
    The Letter 
    Burnet Moths 
    Er Gwell, Er Gwaeth 
    Between the Pages 
    Small Blue Butterfly 
    The Tree 
    Blue Sky Thinking 
    A Wind from Africa 
    Running Away to the Sea – 1955 
    Pheidippedes’ Daughter 
    Oradour, 10 June 1944 
    A Glory in Llanberis Pass 
    Shearwaters on Enlli 
    White Cattle of Dinefwr 
    Six Bells 
    Sarah at Plâs Newydd, Llangollen, 5 July 1788 
    August Hare 
    Wild Plums 
    Harvest Moon 
    Blue Hydrangeas 
    In the Reading Room 
    The Plumber 
    The March 
    The Book of Aneirin
    Lament for Haiti 
    The Fish Pass 
    Ode to Winter 
    The Year’s Midnight 
    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
     'In Ice Gillian Clarke explores memory and identity through a series of winter landscapes.'
    Adam Newey, The Guardian, 1st December 2012
    Praise for Gillian Clarke 'Clarke's skill lies in using simple language to record moments of great beauty, no less lovely for sometimes being familiar. She reminds us of the comfort to be drawn from paying attention to nature'

    Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian

    'Rich with repetition and punctuated by potent page breaks, this extraordinarily incisive collection creates space to reflect upon how the pandemic has transformed us and what, in the face of loss and quiet, our hearts have learned.'

    Jo Clement, The Poetry Society Bulletin

    '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
    '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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