Some Reviews of Clare’s Work:
This fourth collection from the Bolton-born, East London-living, wildly talented young poet is a total beauty. Changeling witnesses Clare Pollard brilliantly re-rub some old English folktales and transcribe them to our own troubled times, as well as offering up some 40 of her own bewitching compositions. These leap ably between ancient lore and recent political outrage…this is proper knockout, stop-you-in-your-tracks stuff – Dazed and Confused
With Changeling, Clare Pollard fulfils the promise of her remarkable earliest collection, written whilst she was still at school. This is clearly poetry for the 21st – edgy and alive, youthful and intelligent…a particular strength of this collection is Pollard’s contemporary take on form, the ballad, the sonnet, the shape poem, the list, all are invigorated…This energising poet can help us confront the unease and complexity of modern life. – PBS Bulletin
The poems are startling, formally inventive, the diction never less than astonishingly varied – it is a passionate, angry, moving, alarming, splendid book. Reading it inspired me to think of new things poetry could say and do; in this collection Pollard moves into the front rank of British poets – Todd Swift, Eyewear (British Poetry Book of 2011)
‘Tam Lin’s Wife’ is perhaps her greatest triumph yet, illustrating the painful yet courageous concessions that love can require. Though based upon a fantastical Scottish ballad, its resonances are broad and far-reaching…Even when a poem’s message is partially obscured, the impression it leaves is always vivid and concentrated. Clare’s elegance of expression ensures that such poems are still a pleasure – as well as a discomfort – to read. – Rina Buznea, Time Out
Pollard is still at her best with the lyrical and personal, and it is “Waiting for the Kettle to Boil, Lancashire” that fully combines the themes that have always driven Pollard’s work – identity, ambition, duty, guilt – with the colloquial tone and eye for life’s paradoxes that lend her best poems charm and force. – Ben Wilkinson, Guardian
Pollard’s poetry is precise, technical and thrilled with energy and honesty… The language and the subjects leave a persistence of vision, a lingering need to read the poems again and let the urgent, controlled-but-ragged voice inside you once more, wondering what will happen when you do. – S.J.Holloway, Orbis
Look, Clare! Look!
Her work really is emphatically of our time, capturing the world in its beauties and horrors in writing that’s technically superb, but which also has what, if I was a sentimental chap, I’d call heart - Ian McMillan, The Verb.
The themes are ancient – guilt, grief, the almost unbearable com-mingling of beauty and suffering – but shown through contemporary globalised life in all its grossness and glory…Pollard’s wit, honesty and recklessness – Frances Leviston, Yorkshire Post.
The Weather (The Royal Court, 2004)
As a published poet, Pollard has a good ear for language and, as an aspiring dramatist, she wittily exploits the possibilities of theatre. Not since Blithe Spirit have we seen a play in which domestic objects acquire such dynamic life. – Michael Billington, The Guardian.
Pollard’s writing has such energy and humour… Gail in particular… is a great comic creation. – Robert Shore Time Out (Critic’s Choice)
The dialogue has a sharp wit and bruises as much as it cuts; Gail’s pretensions, Bob’s resignation and Ellie’s rebelliousness looks like the familiar stuff of domestic comedy, but they mask breathtaking emotional violence. Pollard weaves these themes into her psychodrama with fresh passion and an assured panache remarkable in a first play…And the puzzle of what’s really behind these supernatural goings-on is part of the play’s fascination; to find out, I strongly recommend that you see it – Sam Marlow, The Times.
There’s undeniable power in Pollard’s writing, and the play’s cutting humour is clearly energised by a young person’s frustration and anger at the prospect of a future wantonly curtailed and at the complacency of the older generation which ascribes all the blame to “them”. “The older you get, the more you realise it’s them. Them,” Ellie’s father pontificates. There are also some shrewd and poetic reflections on the difficulty of believing in the end of the world. – Paul Taylor. The Independent.
Clare Pollard has so much youthful talent that it’s alarming. The poems in Bedtime…have all the virtues of youth. They are raw and sexy, exotic and compelling, their insights at once intimate and universal. There’s a cruel precision of observation too, coupled with a real opulence, about these pieces – and the wonderful, reckless revelling in the language. I loved the headlong rush of it all. – Catherine Czerkawska, Mslexia
Pollard’s voice is modern, erudite and original; her subjects are wide-ranging, her use of language dazzling and she is prepared to experiment formally…Her account of a smear test has appalled and delighted women I have shown it to and the last poem in the book is laugh-out-loud funny. – Arthur Smith, The Guardian
What distinguishes Pollard is not so much her age (she was born in 1978 and wrote her first book, The Heavy-Petting Zoo, while still at school), but her zest for words and the patterns they make. Her writing is energised…engaged and engaging. Here one senses the artist’s excitement at the very act of creation, in hammering words together: arteries thicken “like moss-plush gutters”; arum lilies “seem the sun-bleached skulls of cattle”. She shows considerable daring in tackling unpredictable subjects — for instance, in a love poem from Eva Braun to Hitler — that others might avoid. Hers is an authentic voice of the 18-30 generation. – The New Statesman
Two days came and went mooching around the impressively well-stocked poetry section at Foyles bookshop. But to my dismay the amount of anonymous dross on offer was remarkable. I nearly gave up until at last something spoke to me. A poem of hypochondria and love, nihilism and wonder that ended with the lines:
“My mortal love, what fucking fools we are.”
It was the bravest thing I had read in two days. Pollard, only 25, bothered to engage with the modern world in her writing. And she stood out, the voice was lively and had a passion so conspicuous by its absence in my two-day trawl. – Patrick Hussey, The Independent
The Heavy Petting Zoo
This is such a striking book that at any age it would be remarkable – from a teenage writer it leaves you excited that there may be so much more to come. – Time Out.
No one outside the poetry world has heard of Clare Pollard. That will change. Pollard is just 22 and already a seasoned observer and a master technician… She approaches life with a sort of appalled and embittered tenderness. It’s like Sylvia Plath reinterpreted for the Trainspotting generation. Expect her star to rise fast. – Lloyd Evans, The Daily Mail (Books of the year, 2001)
One of the brashest and most exciting young talents in poetry today…An original talent gathering speed…A poet who has looked at the past and unapologetically stamped her own face on it…She possesses the most vital qualification for a poet, an unerringly accurate ear…Her real talent lies in the subtle and organic rhythms of her free verse. – Jane Holland, Poetry Review.
Clare Pollard’s poetry is contemporary in themes and tone, by turns cynical and passionate…[she has] a Larkinesque ability to follow an image that disgusts with one of redeeming and illuminating beauty. The collection closes with a tour de force in ‘The Last Love Poem’, a cascade of emotion allusion and vivid imagery which leaves the reader breathless…I loved it. – School Librarian.