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The River | Bloodaxe Books

Jane Clarke

The River

Jane Clarke

Publication Date : 25 Jun 2015

ISBN: 9781780372532

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Winner of the 2016 Hennessy Literary Award for Emerging Poetry

Shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2016

The textured language, vivid imagery and musical rhythms of Jane Clarke’s debut collection convey a distinctive voice and vision. With lyrical grace these poems contemplate shadow and sorrow as well as creativity and connection. The threat of loss is never far away but neither is delight in the natural world and what it offers. Rooted in rural life, this poet of poignant observation achieves restraint and containment while communicating intense emotions. The rivers that flow through the collection evoke the inevitability of change and our need to find again and again how to go on.

‘Quiet, lucid, subtle poems, nevertheless urgent in their presentation of a farming background in rural Ireland, and the poet’s enduring attachment to it.’ - Moniza Alvi, Judge, RLS Ondaatje Prize

‘The winner emerged with a clarity, a hard earned singularity – a quiet, modest voice, one which has an integrity of the lived life to it – neither showy, nor glib, no tricks, or easy punch-lines – but a definite and respectful sense of tradition. Fine detail marked these poems out, ‘the fishtail chisel with its shallow sweep’, ‘the fiddleback grain’. Here are poems of memory, of childhood, and affection, written with lyrical grace, finesse and elegance. This year’s winner, twice shortlisted before, is Jane Clarke.’ – Judges of the Hennessy Literary Award for Emerging Poetry

'Clear, direct, lovely: Jane Clarke’s voice slips into the Irish tradition with such ease, it is as though she had always been at the heart of it.' – Anne Enright

‘It’s a stand-out collection this year. If you want a masterclass in how to write the lyric, you read Jane Clarke.' Dave Lordan, 5 favourite poetry books of the year, RTE Radio 1's Arena

'... this is poetry of exceptional beauty and accomplishment.' - Thomas McCarthy, Trumpet (Poetry Ireland)

‘This book will no doubt fit into Ireland’s poetic tradition so seamlessly as to seem to have always been there. However, the themes of Clarke’s tender, musical poems are universal, and The River is a book of profound and enduring beauty.’ – Roy Marshall, The Compass

The River is a book sad with a sense of wanting to leave, of leaving inch by inch and poem by poem, the place of cruel beauty that it celebrates so lyrically, so deeply, within its sixty-odd pages. The matter-of-factness of the last two lines of ‘Sing’ tell of another leavetaking, a going away from faith… But for all that, the poet remains a celebrant, and, as a celebrator of the spiritual-cum-elemental, has written lines that stay with us and that ring within us like a liturgy for our times. I love this book.’ - Dan Conway, Ireland’s Own

‘Since Seamus Heaney’s death in August 2013, poetry lovers have been eagerly seeking a successor to Ireland’s greatest modern poet. The publication... of Wicklow-based Jane Clarke’s first collection, The River, will send shudders of excitement through the poetry world and beyond.  From a farming background, Clarke, like Heaney, draws on natural inspirations such as rivers, stone walls, animals and birds for an uplifting, gentle reflection on the human condition.’ – Joe Duffy, Irish Mail on Sunday

'Clarke's poetry is word perfect. Like Heaney, she is a deceptively tough poet... Clarke writes about nature from the inside.’ – Kevin Higgins, Galway Advertiser

'The virtues of Jane Clarke’s writing include a broad sympathy that never usurps the voice of the other, that guides the reader to understanding and respect; a pleasure in ingenious objects and crafts that is deftly transmitted; and a clarity which does not deny mystery but makes room for it. ’ – Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Dublin Review of Books

Jane Clarke reads from The River

Jane Clarke reads and introduces six poems from The River: ‘Daily Bread’, ‘The Blue Bible’, ‘Vows’, ‘Who owns the fields’, ‘On the Boat’ and ‘The River’. Neil Astley filmed her reading selections from her two Bloodaxe collections at her home in Glenmalure in April 2019.


Jane Clarke reads from When the Tree Falls

Jane Clarke reads and introduces twelve poems from When the Tree Falls: ‘Copper Soles’, ‘you pull yourself up’, ‘Those days’, ‘The Polling Station’, ‘The Hurley-maker’, ‘The trouble’, ‘Hers’, ‘Map’, ‘I’ve got you’, ‘Cypress’, ‘Aftergrass’ and ‘Kelly’s Garden’. Neil Astley filmed her reading selections from her two Bloodaxe collections at her home in Glenmalure in April 2019.


Jane Clarke live at Ledbury Poetry Festival

Jane Clarke reads and introduces a selection of her poems at Ledbury Poetry Festival on Friday 8th July 2017, when she shared the stage with fellow Irish poets Rita Ann Higgins and Louis de Paor. The poems she reads are from her Bloodaxe collection The River plus new work. Filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce.


Jane Clarke on the River Suck, the inspiration for her poems

Jane Clarke interviewed about the influence of the River Suck in her writing, including beautiful views of the river and her childhood home, and her reading of her poem 'The Suck'.



BOOKS BY Jane Clarke

When the Tree Falls

Jane Clarke

When the Tree Falls

Publication Date : 26 Sep 2019

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Selected Poems
Collected Poems
Familiar Strangers

Related News & Publicity

News & Publicity

Jane Clarke on Irish Radio

Jane Clarke on Irish Radio

Jane Clarke's debut The River chosen as the 'stand-out collection of the year' on RTE Radio 1's Arena

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