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.
The Farewell Glacier at COP 26
The Farewell Glacier was adapted especially for a 40-minute poetry and music piece performed at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. It explores the mysteries, wonders and climate emergencies of the High Arctic. The poem was read/performed by Scottish actor Peter Mullan. Scottish composers, Emma Donald and Isbel Pendlebury, in collaboration with Nick Drake, created a compelling informing and emotionally powerful event of music and poetry for COP26. Inspired by Nick's voyage around the Svalbard archipelago this performance gathers together voices both human and non-human from across the Arctic's past, present and future to tell a story of exploration, exploitation and imagination. From the first European explorers and whalers to ice-cores, mercury and even the Future herself, this is a story of the power and beauty of ice, the calamity of its loss, and a call to the imagination of every one of us to change the future for the better.
Nick Drake: poems on climate change
Nick Drake reads six poems on climate change, all from
Out of Range, beginning with three Arctic poems written following his participation in Cape Farewell’s trip to Svalbard, ‘Fold up the charts’, ‘the ice core sample’ and ‘Dear mortals’, followed by ’Stranger Thing’ (on the Whitechapel Fatberg), ’Still Life: Plastic Water Bottle (used), and ‘Chronicle of the Incandescent Lightbulb’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him reading poems from his Bloodaxe collections at his home in Hackney, London, in February 2019. These are split into four sets posted as separate videos.
Nick Drake on being Nick Drake
Nick Drake reads his poem ‘Live Air’ (from his collection
From the Word Go) about the other Nick Drake, the 70s singer-songwriter whom he has sometimes been mistaken for, and then discusses all the other sides of being this Nick Drake, not just a poet but a writer known for his work in many other fields and yet with poetry being his first love. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him reading poems from his Bloodaxe collections at his home in Hackney, London, in February 2019. These are split into four sets posted as separate videos.
Nick Drake: poems on love and loss
Nick Drake reads six poems on love and loss: ‘The Very Rich Hours’ and ‘The Cure’ (from
The Man in the White Suit) on the loss of friends to AIDS, three love sonnets, ‘This Love’, ‘A Glass of Water’ and ‘Rainbird’ (from From the Word Go), and ‘From the Song Dynasty’ (from Out of Range) on the lifelong love of two men in medieval China. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him reading poems from his Bloodaxe collections at his home in Hackney, London, in February 2019. These are split into four sets posted as separate videos.
Nick Drake: four poems from Out of Range
Nick Drake reads four poems from his most recent collection,
Out of Range: ‘Maenad’, ‘The Foley Artist (take two)’, ‘Grace’ and ‘The Back of Your Head’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him reading poems from his Bloodaxe collections at his home in Hackney, London, in February 2019. These are split into four sets posted as separate videos.