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When the Tree Falls | Bloodaxe Books

Jane Clarke

When the Tree Falls

Jane Clarke

Publication Date : 26 Sep 2019

ISBN: 9781780374802

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

Shortlisted for the 2020 Pigott Poetry Prize

Shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2020

Shortlisted for the Farmgate Café National Poetry Award 2020

Longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2020


Jane Clarke’s lyrically eloquent poems bear witness to the rhythms of birth and death, celebration and mourning, endurance and regrowth.  An elegiac sequence, inspired by the loss of her father, moves gracefully through this second collection. Rooted in the everyday and backlit by mystery, here are poems to savour and return to, for the pleasure of finely honed lines that powerfully evoke the depth of our connections to people, place and nature.

‘The second collection on the shortlist is Jane Clarke’s When the Tree Falls. The central sequence in the book is about the death of her father, and it’s handled with such care, such compassion, such love, such avoidance of cliché, such a desire to refresh the language and make it sing; and that thing where the more personal you get, the more universal you get – that’s what Jane does… Great poems of loss, of love and of noticing… Fantastic book, fantastic book.’ – Ian McMillan, Judge, Pigott Poetry Prize 2020

‘The Irish poet Jane Clarke has followed a great debut collection with an even better second book. When the Tree Falls talks about her farming father in his last years. It delivers a clean, hard-earned simplicity and a lovely sense of line.’ – Anne Enright, The Irish Times (Books of the Year 2019)

'Jane Clarke is a really extraordinary poet.  This is only her second collection, but this is a really timeless voice. She's a poet who blends the contemporary with a great sense of the ancient and the rural. Her first collection The River was a fantastic piece of work. This new collection When the Tree Falls is focussed very much around the death of her father, but it's an incredibly celebratory poetry collection that really looks at the nuts and bolts of the actual life on a farm in Roscommon...she finds such beauty in it, with such simplicity of language.  There's no sentimentality, no ornamentation; every word is incredibly honed and carries a really deep emotional weight.' - Jessica Traynor, speaking on RTE Radio 1's Arena (Poetry books of 2019)

When the Tree Falls confirms Jane Clarke’s position as one of the most rewarding poets in these islands: she knows how to cut a line, how to shape words to the right instrument and then to make that thing sing.’ – Tony Curtis, Poetry Wales (Poetry Books of the Year 2019)

'Her observation of nature is...precise, her poems are.. honed to the bone. Clarke knows exactly how much to withhold so that the understated artful phrases echo eloquently across the white space of the unsaid.' - Martina Evans, The Irish Times

‘Clarke has clearly paid the closest attention to the lives and worlds around her.  Though there is a deep sadness in many of these poems, there is also a lightness and a willingness to let tenderness and humour shine through… Clarke delicately attends to the rhythms and textures of life, weaving themes together in a subtle and carefully-constructed work.’ – Julie Morrissy, Poetry Ireland Review on When the Tree Falls

'The poems are plain-spoken and restrained: they resist easy consolation. Their austerity serves to intensify the unmediated emotion they almost don’t want to capture… a poem might be born of personal loss, but, once completed and published, it has entered a different timespan, and becomes the forge where other minds are shaped and brightened.' – Carol Rumens, on  When the Tree Falls, Poem of the Week, The Guardian

'Jane Clarke's poems have an epic simplicity, a seeming artlessness that is shaped by the natural instincts of a true poet..' - David Cooke, The North

'Giving vent to her love for her departed father through a shared affiliation with the rustic landscape of her formative home in Roscommon, When the Tree Falls is a protracted and desperately moving song of loss... [a] wonderful, profoundly complete collection of poems.' - Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times

‘Why is poetry so capable of dealing with grief?… Jane Clarke’s new collection, When the Tree Falls, is about her father’s dying.  He was a farmer, and the poems pull in the circumstances of his life on the land, and of how he and it were wedded to each other. It centres on him, but it is also a celebration of how he was centred by place and community.’ – Michael Glover, The Tablet

‘Jane's poems are eloquent and fluid; each poem is well thought-out and expertly crafted, and most importantly for me, they read easily; I don't want to work out what the poet means or is trying to say, or convey, but I want to walk into the experience of the words and understand how they connect with my own personal emotions and experiences. And Jane's poems do exactly this. A wonderful thought-provoking collection.’ – The Poet Magazine

‘This collection of poetry weaves around the death of her father… It’s just so simple, but hugely poignant and very strong writing.’ – Jay Armstrong, Editor of Elementum magazine, recommending When the Tree Falls on the Slightly Foxed podcast about nature writing.

'These poems are rich and earthy, natural and cultivated, and When the Tree Falls is a beautiful second collection, giving the reader not only a sense of loss, but also peace, and even joy, in the quiet memories that live on here.' - Aoife Lyall

'Loss is never far away in her work, but neither is delight - in the natural world, people, the particular quality of a place. She writes with clarity, spareness and lyrical intensity.' - Sue Leigh, PN Review, on When the Tree Falls

'In 49 carefully wrought, fluent poems, the longest being 30 lines, this collection communicates the space left by the poet’s father within the family, the home, and the land he farmed...I can’t recommend highly enough this sensitive, thought-provoking, and ultimately life-affirming collection.' - Maria Isakova Bennett, Orbis


Jane Clarke’s first collection, The River, was published by Bloodaxe in 2015 to both critical and public acclaim:

'…this is poetry of exceptional beauty and accomplishment… a marvellous kind of arrival, a redemptive act where memory has meaning and the heart need never be kept indoors.' – Thomas McCarthy, Trumpet (Poetry Ireland)


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 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.


Washington DC launch for Jane Clarke's When the Tree Falls

Jane Clarke's reading at NYU Washington, DC in October 2019, part of her US tour organised by Solas Nua. Jane read poems from her latest book, When the Tree Falls, and took questions from the audience. She also read four poems from All the Way Home, her illustrated booklet of poems in response to a First World War family archive held in the Mary Evans Picture Library, London (Smith|Doorstop, April 2019). She began and ended her reading with poems from her debut collection The River.


Jane Clarke reads ‘Swim’, remembering her friend Shirley McClure

Jane Clarke reads and talks about her poem 'Swim’ from When the Tree Falls, celebrating her friendship with fellow poet Shirley McClure, who died from cancer in 2016.


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.


Ireland: Click here to order from Books Upstairs in Dublin

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or


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Jane Clarke Readings

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Jane Clarke's online launch reading for A Change in the Air is on YouTube, along with a video of her T S Eliot Prize Reading from January 2024.

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News & Publicity

Jane Clarke interviews, books of the year & poem features for When the Tree Falls

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Interviews on RTE One's Nationwide, podcasts & CountryWide; poems on Nature Nights; nature book discussion on Lyric FM's Culture File Weekly; poems on RTE CountryWide...

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