Geraldine Clarkson

Geraldine Clarkson

One of the 2016 Laureate's Choice poets, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy. 

 

Geraldine Clarkson lives in Warwickshire.  Her poems have appeared in many journals including Poetry, The Poetry Review, The Rialto, Poetry London, Ambit, Magma, Shearsman Magazine, Tears in the Fence, and Under the Radar; and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Proms Extra, and performed by the Live Canon ensemble. She was selected as an Arvon/Jerwood mentee, and received a Writers’ Centre Norwich ‘Escalator’ award. In 2015, she was commended in the UK National Poetry Competition, and in the same year won the Poetry London and Ambit competitions, as well as the Magma Editors’, Ver Poets, and Anne Born prizes.

 

Her prose poems are included in This Line Is Not For Turning: An Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry (Cinnamon Press, 2011), and she has poems in various other anthologies, including Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt Publishing), The Furies: A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors (For Books’ Sake, 2014), and The Poet’s Quest for God (Eyewear, 2016). A selection of her work was showcased in the inaugural Primers (Nine Arches Press & the Poetry School).

 

She has read at venues in London, New York, Dublin, and Edinburgh, and is due to read at Swindon, Guildford, Ilkley and Aldeburgh Festivals in Autumn 2016. She took part in the Tour de Yorkshire ‘Spokes’ poetry tour organised by Otley Word Feast Press in 2014, and co-edited ‘The Garden’ anthology, published by the same press.

 

She has received ongoing support from Arts Council England to prepare her work for publication, and is working on her first full-length collection. 

 


“Geraldine Clarkson is a highly inventive, high energy poet who writes poems that are always vividly phrased and technically accomplished... one of those rare things, a genuinely exciting new poet.”

 

– Daljit Nagra

 

'Geraldine Clarkson's poems are musical, often playful incantations that delight in the power of words. Formally inventive and vivid with natural imagery.'

– Carol Ann Duffy

 

Praise for Declare, PBS Pamphlet Choice 

'Clarkson's invented forms and varied subject matters are utterly restless. Each of her poems is triumphant in execution and finale. She writes surreal, elegiac and list poems, she rethinks fairy tales, obscure historic details [...] Clarkson has the potential to be a significant and original voice in British poetry.'

 

Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament

 

Sees him at the far end of the strand,

squamous in rubbery weed, his knees bobbing 

urchins, his lean trunk leaning, sea-treasure for her.

 

After it all (they mate, like carapaces, in parentheses)

Dora feels coolness in new places, lifts a reused 

razor shell, mother-of-pearly and straight

 

and signals out to the swell of mouldering green. 

Dora is electric, in love, and deep water.

Dora, Dora, Dora, in which dread is.

 

People people the beach, peering 

through splayed hands, appealing:

DAW-RAAaargh.  A boat sees her passing. 

 

Sea-scribbler’s chest buckles

in after-shock. 

His quill is primed: squid-inked and witful.

 

 

I grew up in Warwickshire in the UK Midlands. My mother, and also my father’s family on his mother’s side, were from the west of Ireland, which played a very significant part in our growing up. There were 10 of us in the family. My father had a barber’s shop but also did many different jobs, working in factories, driving taxis, night security… After a family tragedy - one brother died at the age of 18 – my father went to Ireland to build a house in memory of the brother who’d died. He wasn’t a builder by trade but got books out of the library and taught himself. My mother also worked in a variety of jobs including school dinner lady, cleaner, and assistant cook at a care home. 

I wrote a lot as a child – my father and teachers were always encouraging. As a teenager I published some of the stories which I’d written for my many nephews and nieces, and continued to do this and to devise quizzes and puzzles for children’s magazines for a few years. It was exciting, but felt more like a commercial activity than a creative one. It took a long time for me to return to the writing I enjoyed, and to reconcile myself to the idea that it was okay to write for pleasure, even though I always self-identified as a writer (who wasn’t writing). I had spent some time in religious community and I think this experience made me feel more ambivalent. I finally began writing poetry when my mother passed away, about 9 years ago.

I’ve been very lucky since I started writing. Very early on I was awarded an Arvon/Jerwood menteeship, and shortly afterwards a Writers’ Centre Norwich ‘Escalator’ award, which led to Arts Council England funding which has helped me develop my writing. 

I write a lot while travelling on trains, and also late at night. The ‘business’ and publishing aspect of writing can be a distraction, as are submissions, competitions, keeping in touch, and—during the past 6 months— Twitter…!

I now have a large number of poems which I am currently revisiting and collecting together. ‘Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament’ contains some very early poems, one shortlisted in the Arvon competition just after I began writing, and a few which I associate with Ireland, in particular Connemara, and the sea. There are also one or two which touch on monastic life. I see that there are lots of themes, the same poem written in different ways. 

I’m currently completing my first full-length collection, which is called ‘Monica’s Overcoat of Flesh’, which I hope very much to publish soon.

 

 

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