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Sea Swim

by John Wedgwood Clarke

'Your wake complicates mine. Our footprints dream in the tide.'

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.

"His work is amongst the best to have emerged from new poets in this country over the past two or three years."
— Simon Armitage

"I am thrilled to be patron of this simple and simply beautiful idea. Poetry is going down to the sea again."
— Carol Ann Duffy


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, and more recently at the University of Exeter.

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. His second full-length collection of poetry, titled Landfill, was mostly inspired by a residency at Scarborough's dump, and was published in September 2017.


Edition: Second, Paperback (2014)

Date Published: 2012-04-16

ISBN: 9781908853066

Catalogue Number: VP0029

Number of Pages: 32

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

Cover photograph by Lara Goodband

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