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John Wedgwood Clarke

John Wedgwood Clarke was born in St Ives, Cornwall in 1969. He trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, before going on to study literature and completing a D.Phil. in Modernist poetry at the University of York. He set up the Beverley Literature and Bridlington Poetry Festivals, and ran them for ten years, before leaving to pursue a full-time career in writing and editing, as well as teaching Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Scarborough.

His debut pamphlet Sea Swim was published by Valley Press in April 2012, the result of an invigorating artistic initiative described by Carol Ann Duffy as 'a simple and simply beautiful idea.' September 2013 saw the publication of John's highly-acclaimed first full-length collection, Ghost Pot, which featured scenery and wildlife from the North Yorkshire coast.

In June 2014, John's series of poems inspired by the snickets, passageways, courts and yards of York were published in a pamphlet titled In Between, and appeared on the walls of the city as part of the York Curiouser festival.

BOOKS

Ghost Pot

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John Wedgwood Clarke’s first full-length collection begins with the mesmerizing and disturbing image of the ‘Ghost Pot’ – a lobster creel that, torn free from its mooring, drifts along the sea-bed, continuing to catch lobsters until it is rediscovered, ‘crammed to the throat with bony shields’.

Returning to the coastline vividly described in his debut pamphlet Sea Swim, these new poems add depth and variation to a body of work fast-becoming the definitive literary take on the seafront vistas of North Yorkshire. Bays, cliffs, frets and a ‘Brigg’ are populated by deftly- portrayed sea creatures, half-glimpsed residents with ‘voices the moon defines’, their ‘yellow winter pub-talk clacking down wet steps’, and landmarks, including the rusting industrial relics of the iron-ore industry on which Clarke observes the ‘irreversible flowerings of a bolt’.

Ghost Pot is a powerful, cohesive sequence which marks the arrival of a significant and original talent.

A Read Regional Choice for 2015.

In Between

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York’s secret history lies in its snickets, passageways, courts and yards – all of those in-between, out of the way routes: walk them and you inhabit history.

In a newly-commissioned sequence of site-specific poems for York Curiouser, John Wedgwood Clarke explores the way people have shaped and been shaped by these transitional places. To read the poems is to haunt these hidden ways and to be haunted by them; to fill yourself with the breath and spirit of an extraordinary city.

Sea Swim

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Throughout 2011, Sea Swimmers swam in Scarborough's South Bay as part of imove, the Cultural Olympiad Programme in Yorkshire. They were led bravely into the waves by poet John Wedgwood Clarke, whose eighteen-poem sequence inspired by this experience was collected in book form and published by Valley Press in April 2012.

The poems explore the fluent, fragile and sometimes agonisingly pleasurable relationship between the swimmer, the land and the sea around Scarborough; how swimming transforms the way we feel ourselves to be in our bodies, and the liberating effects these changes have on the imagination. Sea Swim may be as close as you can get to swimming in the sea without donning a wetsuit.

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