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.
‘A scintillating collection of poems…a mastery of form and tone, and a simple, uncontrived unravelling of emotional and psychological complexities… If you care about words; if you care about the impossibility but the nobility of trying to express the ineffable in language that is accessible but that stuns, then haunts you, buy this book’ – Lloyd Rees, Envoi
‘Subtle, funny and tremendously moving. He has an eye for the small detail as well as the big picture. These poems brilliantly evoke time and place’ – Jackie Kay
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.