Falling in and out
of sleep all night
he suddenly struggles
to sit up.
Will you open the curtains
so we’ll see the dawn when it comes?
He gazes out
at the cypress
that in his lifetime
grew higher than the house.
A tree that survived
every winter’s wind;
its trunk ridged
as a raised bed ready for seed,
set to sprout flower balls,
worn bare as bones,
branches touching the ground,
forming a haven –
a tree to sit in,
Jane Clarke’s lyrically eloquent poems bear witness to the rhythms of birth and death, celebration and mourning, endurance and regrowth. An elegiac sequence, inspired by the loss of her father, moves gracefully through this second collection. Rooted in the everyday and backlit by mystery, here are poems to savour and return to, for the pleasure of finely honed lines that powerfully evoke the depth of our connections to people, place and nature.
We spoke to Jane about her work for a feature in Edition One – an extract is available to read online.
'The poems are plain-spoken and restrained: they resist easy consolation. Their austerity serves to intensify the unmediated emotion they almost don’t want to capture… a poem might be born of personal loss, but, once completed and published, it has entered a different timespan, and becomes the forge where other minds are shaped and brightened.' – Carol Rumens, on When the Tree Falls, Poem of the Week, TheGuardian.com
‘Jane's poems are eloquent and fluid; each poem is well thought-out and expertly crafted, and most importantly for me, they read easily; I don't want to work out what the poet means or is trying to say, or convey, but I want to walk into the experience of the words and understand how they connect with my own personal emotions and experiences. And Jane's poems do exactly this. A wonderful thought-provoking collection.’ – The Poet Magazine
Jane Clarke was born in 1961 and grew up on a farm in Co. Roscommon. She lives with her partner in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow, where she combines writing with her work as a creative writing tutor and group facilitator. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin, and an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales, and has a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
Her first collection, The River, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015. It was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, given for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry evoking the spirit of a place. In 2016 she won the Hennessy Literary Award for Emerging Poetry and the inaugural Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year Award. She was awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Literary Bursary in 2017.
All the Way Home, Jane’s illustrated booklet of poems in response to a First World War family archive held in the Mary Evans Picture Library, London, was published by Smith|Doorstop in 2019, with her second book-length collection, When the Tree Falls, published by Bloodaxe Books, following in September. Jane also edited Origami Doll, New and Collected Shirley McClure (Arlen House, 2019) and guest-edited The North 61: Irish Issue (The Poetry Business, 2019) with Nessa O’Mahony.