John Wedgwood Clarke launches his latest book Ghost Pot this month (September). It's all about the Yorkshire Coast - with a few excursions inland, and quite a few poems are about Scarborough (one of which was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize and feature on the side of the QE Hall at the South Bank during their festival of Britain anniversary celebrations.
The work has been getting good reviews: see a selection below. And catch the launch at Scarborough Art Gallery on 28 September, 6-7pm - it's free.
What gives John Wedgwood Clarke's poems of the North-East coast of England their distinction is the expression of the findings of an intently observing eye through an exceptional lyrical technique. Whether the subject is sea-life or shoreline or history, these beautifully crafted poems tease out the essential meaning in things and places. Ghost Pot is a masterpiece that rewards continual rereading.
These are poems of texture, assonance and colour, as many-layered as the names of the places they investigate: Cloughton Wyke, South Batts, Lingrow Knock. Saunter, hike, swim, prospect the North Yorkshire coast with John Wedgwood Clarke, and find the philosophical scope of the regional, the human interest lurking among minerals, and a universe of minute new perspectives revealed by the microscope of the poet’s close reading of his favourite text – his surrounding landscape.
Ghost Pot’s rich, unhindered and limpid language, with its floods of light and complex darkness, creates an exhilarating sweep of elemental experience.
Ghost Pot is a complex and delightful ecosystem of a book. The poems, for all their diversity, coexist in a balance at once dangerous and beguiling. There's a richness of language that suggests we're in the hands not only of a masterful poet but of an erudite marine biologist. Many of Ghost Pot's poems are specifically located on and off the coast of Yorkshire; all of them find a true home in the human heart.
There's a rare delicacy in John Wedgwood Clarke's poems, working as they do at edges and borders, but there's an energy too, in his formal skill and the clear-rinsed quality of his writing.
Michael Symmons Roberts
- Published in HT Mashup: Features