Polly Clark’s haunting new collection is about leaving one’s life and returning a stranger. In poems which are moving and often darkly comic, she explores the ways in which we try to hang on to what we were, and the ways in which we accept that everything we were certain of has gone forever.
Farewell My Lovely is a book of transformation in many voices, from riffs on popular songs to a modern reworking of Magnificat or Mary’s Song. Polly Clark’s vivid and unswerving gaze is applied with the same intensity to a dream of childhood, the vulnerability of a new species of bird or the fragility of marriage, creating a powerful collection about the price of survival. The book ends with a final farewell to innocence in a series of poems drawn from the Falklands War.
‘A rich and appealingly mysterious collection in which the end of youth, the birth of a child and the strangeness of marriage are filtered through an exact imagination, whose great strengths lie in taking nothing for granted and finding the point where the ordinary and the eternal intersect.’ – Sean O'Brien, Sunday Times
‘Clark has a gift for startling, truthful analysis, for example of the power of marriage and our vulnerability within it: ‘Its strength shocked me./ Dragged me. Reset me.’ There are resonant poems about female experience which are also searingly universal…. Throughout the poems in Farewell My Lovely ideas are anchored in the real world with recognisable images, but suddenly wrenched out of the commonplace, shocking the reader out of any complacency. These are poems you can return to again and again. I recommend that you do.’ – Catherine Czerkawska, The Edinburgh Review
‘Polly Clark has mastered the necessary art of saying two things at once. The surface of her poems maintains a bright, even brisk tone; it’s full of fresh, unexpected phrasings. And yet the imagery points to a darker underbelly. It’s a poetry in which our certainties are tested and exposed as brittle’ – W.N. Herbert, PBS Bulletin
‘The strength of this collection lies in images so precisely right that they immediately establish the authenticity of whichever perspective is adopted. Her carefully weighted words build pictures of remarkable clarity’ – Sarah Crown, Guardian