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.
"These are poems of texture, assonance and colour, as many-layered as the names of the places they investigate: Cloughton Wyke, South Batts, Lingrow Knock. John Wedgwood Clarke finds the philosophical scope of the regional, the human interest lurking among minerals, and a universe of minute new perspectives revealed by the microscope of the poet’s close reading of his favourite text – his surrounding landscape."
— Carol Rumens
"Ghost Pot’s rich, unhindered and limpid language, with its floods of light and complex darkness, creates an exhilarating sweep of elemental experience."
— Penelope Shuttle
"There’s a rare delicacy in John Wedgwood Clarke’s poems, working as they do at edges and borders, but there’s an energy too, in his formal skill and the clear-rinsed quality of his writing."
— Michael Symmons Roberts
"...the findings of an intently observing eye, expressed through an exceptional lyrical technique. Whether the subject is sea-life, shoreline or history, these beautifully crafted poems tease out the essential meaning in things and places. Ghost Pot is a masterpiece that rewards continual rereading."
— Bernard O'Donoghue
"Ghost Pot is a complex and delightful ecosystem of a book. The poems, for all their diversity, coexist in a balance at once dangerous and beguiling. There's a richness of language that suggests we're in the hands not only of a masterful poet but of an erudite marine biologist. Many of Ghost Pot's poems are specifically located on and off the coast of Yorkshire; all of them find a true home in the human heart."
— Antony Dunn
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.
Date Published: 2013-09-27
Catalogue Number: VP0046
Number of Pages: 74
Cover design by Jamie McGarry
Cover photograph by Lara Goodband
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