Almanacs: a mythic scrapbook, bag of cats, a one-man band… Jen Hadfield’s Almanacs is concerned with lists, rules and archetypes and what they don’t account for. It takes as its subjects the Tarot, the lore of Full Moons, weather myths and travellers’ tales.
The book’s central sequence, Lorelei’s Lore, is a road movie in poems, set in the north of Scotland: Ultima Thule, hijacked by elusive sirens and Harrier jets. There’s the ruthless Lorelei, gorgeous Ghosty who’s given up on everything except the Road, and Skerryman, patron saint of bad weather and absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder. It’s obsessed with yearning, like the two seas separated by the tip of Shetland ‘metres apart/and desperate for each other.’ Lorelei’s Lore wonders ‘what’s beautiful?’ (tarmac? sheep carcasses? sunburn?) and ‘where’s your native home?’
‘A revelation: jaunty, energetic, iconoclastic – even devil-may-care…she is a remarkably original poet near the beginning of what is obviously going to be a distinguished career’ – Andrew Motion, judge's comment on Jen Hadfield winning the T.S. Eliot Prize for her second collection, Nigh-No-Place
‘A zestful poet of the road, a beat poet of the upper latitudes, Jen Hadfield conjures poems and prose-poems of great spirit and imaginative daring from the northern landscapes. Lively, youthful and full of the joy of language, Almanacs is the most refreshing debut for ages’ – Kathleen Jamie
‘A quick mind abroad alone in the ever-changing natural landscape. The language country-rooted, specific, of clear observation: a sophisticated, refreshing country brew. There are many memorable images in the described coquettish dance of nature’s primal forces. This is an excellent collection – Jen Hadfield is a whole and committed poet’ – Tom Leonard
'Onomatopoeia, alliteration, rhyme and a smattering of Shetland dialect supply Hadfield's world with a rackety music – claws on tarmac, a rock-chip hitting a windscreen, a waterproof crackling "like a roasting rack of lamb" – which she orchestrates with a variety of forms including prose poems, incantations, spells and a prayer… When much contemporary poetry has about it a whiff of the coterie, Hadfield's refreshing voice carries all the way from the top of Scotland to blow some of the dust off British verse’ – Stephen Knight, Independent
'There's barely a poem that does not contain a treasurably offbeat image...the vivid exuberance of her language wins you over' - Sarah Crown, Guardian
'Fresh, original, perceptive.' - Anne Donovan, Scotsman (Books of the Year)
Jen Hadfield reads from Nigh-No-Place
Jen Hadfield reads four poems from her second collection, Nigh-No-Place, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, beginning with the title-poem 'Nigh-No-Place', followed by 'In the same way', 'Daed-traa', and then 'Paternoster', the Lord’s Prayer uttered by a draught-horse. The film shows excerpts from her Wordsworth Trust reading St Oswald's Church, Grasmere, Cumbria, on 30 June 2009.