I attended National Poetry Day at Waterstones last week, and took the chance to buy Gillian Clarke’s poetry collection Ice. The way she introduced each poem with an anecdote, meant each poem read like part of a wider dialogue with the world. She effortlessly flowed from one to the next as if holding a seamless conversation with snow. It circled back on itself, she mentioned her mother often, introducing herself to Manchester with, ‘My mother said, when she got back, she’d seen animals in warmer rooms than where the children lived in Salford’ (paraphrased). Which was a pretty effective way of introducing us to the issue of human care for the world, and each other.
I’m off to see Paul Farley and Deryn Rees-Jones tonight. I’m planning to buy Burying the Wren, Deryn’s latest collection. Gillian Clarke has a poem called Hunting the Wren:
‘A wren has dreamed a forest
multiplied in glass,
as tree dreamed bird into being,
its boughs and shadows spread
on a forest floor of snow.’
The electric lit tree is transformed into woodland, the bird and tree forming an alliance of the outdoors.
The most ecopoem of the collection to me is Blue Sky Thinking. ‘The sky’s not been this clean since I was born’. I’ve tried to write my version of the cleanest sky I’ve seen:
A Clean Sky
The brightest night I ever saw-Cornwall
a blaze of stars filled my eyes to the corners.
So used to the murk of a town, I hardly recognised the dark.
Living by a carpark, Jupiter spins, faint and red,
The light years caught in a thickening glaze.
To have it thinned, pared back to the stars,
and name their huddled patterns, hesitant
unsure which Draco, which Lyra.
Pointing and gasping, fish out of water.