The Welsh poet Gillian Clarke has won the Queen’s gold medal for poetry
According to [poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who served on the prize committee], the environmental challenges which face us in the 21st century make the nature poetry which has always been a feature of Clarke’s work “much more political — as it was, indeed, in the days of John Clare — and her work is becoming more and more important”.
[Her editor at Carcanet, Michael] Schmidt agreed, citing the title sequence in A Recipe for Water, which brings the perils of climate change closer to home through the experience of drought: “You imagine me writing in the falling rain /& But day after day / no huff of rain / on the roof”. Part of Clarke’s appeal lies in her talent for celebration, he continued, even when tackling difficult subjects.
“She seems to be quite happy in the 21st century,” he said. “Many poets tend to be quite elegiac, they tend to lament the state of the present, but Gillian’s very positive.”
The poet herself dismissed the idea she was writing to “an agenda”, arguing instead that the ecological focus of some of her recent work came because “you write about your obsessions”.
“What I’m doing these days is loving the planet rather than moaning about it,” she said. “If we love the planet we might just save it, but if we moan we might not.”