Publication date: 7th September 2023
Format: Paperback / eBook
Cover artwork by John Northcote Nash 'Winter Evening'
The Field in Winter, the third collection of poetry by David Clarke, winner of the Michael Marks Award, elegantly reflects on memory, time, and the very particular landscape of loss, in a calendar of poems, a ‘charm of words’ that track and loop through seasons of nature and living.
The relationship between the environment, the human body and the self takes centre stage here in poetry that is concerned with being in the world - senses alive to the detail of things, the trunk of a linden tree, the shock of cold water, the frenzy of bees and blossom. But these remarkable poems also write towards the intangible in the late summer’s dusk – an empty cage, a bird flown; history’s slow grind and echo. Clarke’s elegies reach out to touch what passes us fleetingly in a moment of time – ‘before the tongue can catch them’ – held for that second, precious, in his poised and finely weighted poetry.
Praise for The Field in Winter:
"The Field in Winter is a gloriously observant and richly thoughtful collection.David Clarke confirms the promise of his earlier collections with poems that are at once grounded in the readily observed and full of rich, quiet, thoughtful leaps of imagination. Few poets have his eye for the meaning of things, and fewer still his ear for a perfectly balanced line. Most importantly, this is poetry as lived experience, informed by a deep knowledge of the craft.” -Jonathan Davidson
"David Clarke has such a good eye for an animating detail: a stork as a blade aligned to the eye; flies as meat and jewels; a brace of rabbits as blind heads knocking. This means that the subjects of these poems – mammals, birds, sloes, storms, absences – jostle and hum as warm, living things. It’s a two-way relationship: the I doing the looking knows it can be breached, might indeed be overcome – by cold lakewater, by the stink of meat, or simply by loss of bearings – an I, in other words, that’s willing to transform and be transformed. As Clarke himself writes, its shape “extends in new dimensions here” – Abigail Parry
"Anyone who feels uncertain whether they will enjoy modern poetry should try David Clarke’s new book. Accessible, yet never facile, The Field in Winter has its eye on the big questions, but also represents a certain kind of tight-focused lyrical Englishness. In fact the book opens in Poland and returns there several times – often in sonnets, a form he is constantly shadowing. Clarke’s formal authority is everywhere on display, and as in his 2019 collection, The Europeans (Nine Arches), the tone is genial, companionable. But there are complex layers to these poems and a distinctive underlying rumble – even when he is not describing Storm Ellen, which he does superbly. Clarke is above all a pastoral poet, a close and sometimes elegiac observer, whose sketch-book is full of fresh and engaging miniatures (starlings make “sci-fi sounds/of lasers deep in space”, a stork is “pacing the fields with a surgeon’s tact”). Drawn particularly to named places in the British Isles, he is attuned to the tensions between city life and country matters, finding poetry where we might not expect it: “I almost forgot to mention the bark of a cherry/ in the halogen light of that new streetlamp”. If David Clarke has a daemon, it must be that “Urban Fox” he describes, who stops beneath a streetlight, then “turns her head to hear/the call of a greater life”. - John Greening
David Clarke's first pamphlet,Gaud, won the Michael Marks award in 2013. His first collection, Arc, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2015 and was longlisted for the Polari Prize. Another pamphlet,Scare Stories, was published by V Press in 2017 and was named a Poetry School ‘Book the Year.’ His second collection,The Europeans, was published by Nine Arches in 2019. His poems have appeared in publications including Magma,Poetry Wales andThe Guardian.