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At the Source
A Writer's Year
RRP: GBP 12.95
ISBN: 978 1 847778 49 9
Categories: 21st Century, Welsh, Women
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Published: August 2011
180 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Paperback, eBook (Kindle), eBook (PDF)
On the first day of January I open a new journal and mark the cleanpage with a date, location, a first sentence… The first words print thefield of snow. I relish the moment, the pen, the white page.
At the Source reflects upon a writer’s deep inheritance of language, myth and nature. Her creative journeys begin from those sources. The book opens with a house, Blaen Cwrt. A river rises, a tributary which will flow on to the Atlantic, and a family has its roots there. There the Welsh poet Gillian Clarke writes in what was the byre, looking across a landscape worked and imagined by generations of farmers and poets.
Six chapters explore the relationship of places and languages, culture and family, geology and myth, in a poet’s imagination. At the heart of the book is a journal of the writer’s year. Lyrical, wise, meticulously observant, often humorous, Clarke records the experience of living and working on the land, observing the world from a particular place, the continuity and remaking of the source.
'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
Cover drawing copyright Mirlo Cai Cardenas. Reproduced by kind permission of the artist. Cover design StephenRaw.com
Awards won by Gillian Clarke Winner, 2011 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Winner, 2012 Wilfred Owen Award
'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 Praise for Gillian Clarke '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.'
'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 '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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