Ian Clarke is a Fenland ex pat poet living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire but his heart is still in the flatlands of East Anglia. He has been published widely in various anthologies including: Writers of East Anglia, Contemporary Yorkshire Poetry, and at least twice in Otley Word Feast anthologies, also in Acumen, Envoi and online with Ink, Sweat and Tears. Recent publications include A Slow Stirring (Indigo Dreams, 2012) and BARD 132, a broadsheet in a completely different register available from Atlantean Publishing. Ian is a regular reader at Harrogate’s 'Poems, Prose and Pints'.
From 'OWL LIT' by Ian Clarke
cool stirs -
a breeze whispers tipsy
through rye and sedge
then a moonlit glance
triggers a shiver
raises the sleep of stone
the tree’s feathered face
© Ian Clarke
Neil Leadbeater reviewed 'Owl Lit' in Littoral Magazine on December 2nd 2021: here is an extract:
In [Ian Clarke's] poems, the season is often winter and a hard one at that. Clarke is a realist and any romantic notions that one might have about life in the fens is soon dispelled when he describes the hard graft of the rural workers scraping a pittance for a living. In his character poems, often centred around a single person, we meet them scything the long grass, raking spent fires, hunting at night with lamps for rabbits or trapping eels with a glave. The mood is often elegiac. In ‘Bill’ he gives us a sense, not only of the man but also of the weather and the harsh environment in which he worked:
And there he is
remembering a winter star-shaped and giggling, the splash of a scythe in tall grass
where he stands now stone-still
on the horizon’s empty line,
catching his death as the water rises,
filling his lungs with sky.
One of his many strengths is the way he surprises us with his choice of vocabulary. ‘Giggling’ sounds out of place here, and then there is the word ‘sky’ where we would expect to find the word ‘water’. Water and sky form a very large component of the East Anglian landscape.
Overall, there is much to admire here and the striking photograph on the front cover titled ‘Old Boat, Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk’ by Ian Flindt, captures the essence of so much that is to be found in this atmospheric collection.
Perfect-bound paperback, 33 pages 148 x 210mm
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