Saturday, 29 September 2012

Collected poems of Gillian Clarke

I first read this book years ago and recently re-read it slowly over a couple of months. Gillian Clarke is one of the best known and best loved poets of Wales. Being her Collected Poems this book brings together a diverse selection of poems, including Cofiant - a long family biography in verse form, following an old Welsh tradition of such poems and a series of poems The King of Britain's daughter about a historical princess of Wales.

Clarke is a poet who clearly lives in nature and her descriptions are beautiful:

Dusk unwinds its spool
among the stems of plum trees
subliminal messenger
on the screen of evening

(from Pipstrelle)

She has the ability to transport the reader right there, to the farm field, to the derelict mine, to the shoreline.

It's interesting too, to notice how the poetry changes through the selections. I'm not enough of a literary critic to draw out the stylistic differences without more learned people disagreeing with me, so I'll say no more, but if you read the book you'll probably realise what I mean. (I have to admit, too, that on a personal level, I found some of her line-breaks in the early poems really distracting and annoying). 

This is a collection that is worth savouring and reading several times.

The sea writes on the sand
in a scribble of weed and gull bones.

(from The King of Britain's Daughter)

Collected Poems of Gillian Clarke, published by Carcanet

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages, where you can find out more.


bunnits said...

Must look for this one

(much going on; getting behind in my reading of posts)

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

I will buy it at the end of this year. Carcanet is a reknown publisher by the way. Have you read in Carcanet the collected poems of Elizabeth Jennings? Powerful, striaghtforward poetry.

Ms Sparrow said...

I'm on my way over to a friend's poetry reading downtown.

Glo said...

"The sea writes on the sand in a scribble of weed and gull bones."
This will stay with me during my sea shore wanderings, although around here it is more like salmon bones, or crab and sea star carcasses! Thanks for introducing me to her poetry.

EG CameraGirl said...

She sounds like a gifted poet...even if some of her line breaks annoyed you.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I don't know her poetry at all Juliet - but I love the example you give here - so shall look out for her now.