The poems in Clare Pollard’s new collection Incarnation are about our children and the stories that we tell them. Whether looking at the discourse around pregnancy, describing the pain of childbirth or thinking about surveillance at soft play, they blur the personal and political. Pinocchio, Hamelin, Alice and The Tiger who Came to Tea make appearances alongside biblical tales: the ark, the whale’s belly, the Moses basket in the rushes. There are poems for lost daughters – Amy Winehouse, Madeleine McCann, the victims of honour killings – and lost sons. There are also poems about innocence and responsibility which ask what it means to bring new human beings into this world, and how we shape them through our words.
‘For several decades, since her late teens, Clare Pollard has kept her poetic finger on the pulse of the world, writing poems of fierce love about the full scope of contemporary life from the intimacy of motherhood and the divided streets of London to elegies for the victims of honour killings and the climate crisis. Wonderfully skilled and with a rare lyrical gift, her poems ask today the questions the rest of us will ask tomorrow.’ – Owen Sheers on Clare Pollard, one of the ten writers 'asking questions to shape our future' he selected for the National Centre for Writing's International Literature Showcase in 2020.
‘In Clare Pollard’s fifth poetry collection Incarnation, she writes of pregnancy and mothers and children, of fairytales and news headlines and horrors. The follow up to her 2013 reimagining of Ovid’s Heroines with its emphasis on the possibilities (and necessities) of revising old stories, Pollard’s poems remain sharp and compelling.’ – Rosalind Jana, Stylist Magazine
‘Motherhood is one of the themes in Clare Pollard’s new collection; but the book also broadens out into forceful and compassionate poems about the sorrows of the world into which our children are born… Incarnation is a book which, from the very first poem, can startle the reader with its vivid and muscular language and bold imagery.’ - Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, London Grip
‘There are some stunningly powerful pieces in this collection on the theme of children and our relationships with them. Poems about pregnancy and childbirth are viscerally real… This – male – reviewer was captivated and moved throughout by the power of these poems. An outstandingly effective collection.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian
‘... out this month is the poet Clare Pollard’s Incarnation, a meditation on pregnancy, children and storytelling... Pollard digs fearlessly into maternal anxieties, and the physical wonder of reproduction.’ – Charlotte Runcie, The Daily Telegraph
‘Pollard’s is a gritty reality, but one grounded with a culturally aware, geographically various, and historically wide-ranging sensibility: there are versions of creation myths, fairy tales, mystic poems, and laments for lost contemporaries… clear-eyed, intelligent questioning of what the world today offers our children, our future(s).’ – Heidi Williamson, The Poetry School
‘Her work really is emphatically of our time, capturing the world in its beauties and horrors in writing that’s technically superb, but which also has what, if I was a sentimental chap, I’d call heart.’ – Ian McMillan, The Verb
Clare Pollard reads from Changeling
Clare Pollard reads four poems from her Bloodaxe collection Changeling and talks about the book's themes. The poems are 'Tam Lin's Wife', 'Pendle', 'The Two Ravens' and 'The Caravan'. Neil Astley filmed Clare Pollard at her home in London in June 2011.