The poems in
The Farewell Glacier grew out of a journey to the High Arctic.
In late 2010 Nick Drake sailed around Svalbad, an archipelago of islands 500 miles north of Norway, with Cape Farewell, the arts climate change organisation. It was the end of the Arctic summer. The sun took eight hours to set. When the sky briefly darkened, the Great Bear turned about their heads as it had for Pythias the Greek, the first European known to have explored this far north. Sailing as close as possible to the vast glaciers that dominate the islands, they saw polar bear prints on pieces of pack ice the size of trucks. And they tried to understand the effects of climate change on the ecosystem of this most crucial and magnificent part of the world.
Nick Drake's new collection gathers together voices from across the Arctic past – explorers, whalers, mapmakers, scientists, financiers, the famous and the forgotten – as well as attempting to give voice to the confronting mysteries of the high Arctic: the animal spirits, the shape-shifters and the powers of ice and tundra. It looks into the future, to the year 2100, when this glorious winter Eden will have vanished forever.
Many of the poems from
The Farewell Glacier were included in the ground-breaking High Arctic exhibition, installed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich from July 2011 to January 2012, which received substantial national publicity, including a feature on BBC Radio 4's Front Row and national press reviews.
The Farewell Glacier makes your spine shiver... The subject of climate change might not grab your attention, but with its footprints on the polar highs and two spoons of iceberg The Farewell Glacier will melt the hardest heart.’ – Wales Arts Review
‘A highly distinctive volume,
The Farewell Glacier is a poetic exploration of European voyages to the Arctic, weaving together historical expeditions with voices Western, indigenous and animal, and Drake’s own experiences in the far North, territory where ‘the light suffuses everything.’ Drake tackles big questions – when does exploration become exploitation? What of global warming? As with Alice Oswald’s Dart, this volume is a serious re-thinking of what the long poem can do in the 21st Century.’ – Dulwich Books Reviews
‘Most of us will not experience the High Arctic's ear-splitting silence, nor its “stupendous thundering and roaring”, but by being the catalyst for arresting and inspiring work like
The Farewell Glacier, it will speak to all of us who take the time to listen and understand.’ – Kate Monson, Good Energy
Nick Drake reads 'The Farewell Glacier' from the Arctic
This video by Matt Wainwright was shot during the Cape Farewell 2010 Arctic Expedition, and shows Nick Drake aboard ship reading one of the poems he wrote during the voyage. Five marine scientists and ten artists from around the world – writers, musicians, visual artists, directors and architects – sailed from Longyearbyen around the north-east coast of Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic to encounter the magnificence of this extreme and threatened environment and engage with the scientific research being conducted on board.