The drop of water on the tongue, writes Gillian Clarke, 'was the first word in the world', and the language of water is the element in which these poems live. Ocean currents create histories and cultures - the port cities of Cardiff and Mumbai; myths are born where great rivers have their source high in the mountains. A bottle of spring water contains the mineral elements of life; we can read the earth's deep history in arctic ice. We share the rhythms of migrations in the pull of tides and seasons through rivers and estuaries. In her first collection since becoming the National Poet of Wales in 2008, Gillian Clarke explores water as memory and meaning, the bearer of stories that well up from a personal and collective past to return us to the language of the imagination in which we first named the world.
Born in Cardiff, Gillian Clarke is a poet, playwright, editor, broadcaster, lecturer and translator (from Welsh). She edited the Anglo-Welsh Review from 1975 to 1984, and has taught creative writing in primary and secondary schools and at university level. She is a former president of Ty Newydd, the writers' centre in North Wales which she co-founded in 1990. Since 1994 she has been a tutor in Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan. Clarke was the inaugural Capital Poet for Cardiff 2005-6. Her poetry is studied by GCSE and A Level students throughout Britain. She has given poetry readings and lectures in Europe and the United States, and her work has been translated into ten languages. She has a daughter and two sons, and now lives with her architect husband on a smallholding in Ceredigion, Wales, where they raise a small flock of sheep, and care for the land according to organic and conservation practice. She was appointed the National Poet of Wales in 2008.
Contents First Words A Pocket Dictionary Glas y Dorlan Not Otter The Fox and the Girl Sgwarnop Nettles A T-Mail to Keats Fflam The Ledbury Muse A Recipe for Water Severn A Barge on the Severn Source Sabrina Ice Tide Bore Barrage Migrations Mumbai Man in a Shower At the Banganga Tank In the Taj Laundry Hands Post Script Glacier Reader's Digest Atlas of the World City Afon Taf Architect Coins Llandaf Cathedral Sleepless Subway The Rising Tide Welsh Stadium Wing Number Letting the Light In House of Dreams A Sonnet for Nye Mercury Welsh Gold Horsetail Kites Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar Oradour-sur-Glane Singer Storm over Limousin Landscape with Farm The Accompanist Bach at St Davids Cattle, Hayfield, Storm Gravity Wings Pegging Out Love at Livebait Revival Castell y Bere Old Libraries The Oak Wood Library Chair Quayside Farewell Finisterre December Cae Delyn Advent The Darkest Day Solstice Shepherd