The poems in Clare Pollard’s new collection Incarnation are about our children and the stories that we tell them. Whether looking at the discourse around pregnancy, describing the pain of childbirth or thinking about surveillance at soft play, they blur the personal and political. Pinocchio, Hamelin, Alice and The Tiger who Came to Tea make appearances alongside biblical tales: the ark, the whale’s belly, the Moses basket in the rushes. There are poems for lost daughters – Amy Winehouse, Madeleine McCann, the victims of honour killings – and lost sons. There are also poems about innocence and responsibility which ask what it means to bring new human beings into this world, and how we shape them through our words.
Ovid’s Heroides, written in Rome some time between 25 and 16 BC, was once his most popular work. The title translates as Heroines. It is a series of poems in the voices of women from Greek and Roman myth – including Phaedra, Medea, Penelope and Ariadne – addressed to the men they love.
Claimed as both the first book of dramatic monologues and the first of epistolary fiction, Heroines is also a radical text in its literary transvestism, and in presenting the same story from often very different, subjective perspectives.
For a long time it was Ovid’s most influential work, loved by Chaucer, Dante, Marlowe, Shakespeare and Donne, and translated by Dryden and Pope. Clare Pollard’s new translation rediscovers Ovid’s Heroines for the 21st century, with a cast of women who are brave, bitchy, sexy, suicidal, horrifying, heartbreaking and surprisingly modern.
Two of the most popular poetry books of recent times have been Ted Hughes’s new version of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife, dramatic monologues by women from myth and history giving their side of the story. Clare Pollard’s new take on Ovid’s Heroines is another book in that vein, bringing classic tales to life for modern readers.
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Clare Pollard’s fourth collection is steeped in folktale and ballads, and looks at the stories we tell about ourselves. From the Pendle witch-trials in 17th-century Lancashire to the gangs of modern-day east London, Changeling takes on our myths and monsters.
These are poems of place that journey from Zennor to Whitby, Broadstairs to Brick Lane. Whether relocating the traditional ballad ‘The Twa Corbies’ to war-torn Iraq, introducing us to the bearded lady Miss Lupin, or giving us a glimpse of the ‘beast of Bolton’, Changeling is a collection about our relationship with the Other: fear and trust, force and freedom.
Co-edited with James Byrne, Bloodaxe 2009
Who are the best young poets today? Which new poets are most likely to become the defining voices of their generation? Two young editors, James Byrne and Clare Pollard, set out to answer these questions in Voice Recognition, a vibrant anthology introducing 21 of the most exciting young poets of the 21st century.
Voice Recognition showcases the work of a talented new wave of poets from Britain and Ireland who are just now starting to make their mark. None has yet published a first book of poems. All are likely to produce distinctively different debut collections in the next few years.
Influenced by poetries from across the world, and unafraid to take risks, all these poets are committed to extending and remaking the traditions of poetry in a fast-changing new millennium. Their poems show a lively range of styles and subjects – sometimes sexy, sometimes dark, but consistently brimming with vitality. The future of poetry begins here.
Jay Bernard • Emily Berry • Amy Blakemore • Siddhartha Bose • Ailbhe Darcy • Joe Dunthorne • Miriam Gamble • Sarah Jackson • Annie Katchinska • Mark Leech • Toby Martinez de las Rivas • Jonathan Morley • Adam O’Riordan • Colm O’Shea • Sandeep Parmar • Heather Phillipson • Kate Potts • Sophie Robinson • Jack Underwood • Ahren Warner • James Womack
Look, Clare! Look! is the story of a year. When Clare Pollard set off on a six-month world trip, she wanted to write a long poem which engaged with what she saw and felt during her travels. On her return, she discovered that her father was seriously ill, and his funeral was held on New Year’s Eve.
Clare Pollard’s third collection is a book about journeys and home. She looks closely at both global issues and the blossom in her yard. Beginning as a meditation on western guilt against the backdrop of SARS and the Iraq War, it ends by looking at our closest relationships, in poems that deal with a pregnancy scare and her engagement, as well as illness and loss.
While cocktail-swigging Gail concerns herself with shopping and her husband buries his head in the sand, their teenaged daughter, Ellie, predicts the end of the world. The weather is alarmingly erratic, and there’s an enraged poltergeist in the kitchen…
This play premiered at the Royal Court Theatre.
Clare Pollard wrote her first book The Heavy-Petting Zoo while still at school. Its sequel is Bedtime: a setting for intimacy and tenderness as well as cruelty and pretence, where reality and fantasy are blurred. These are cutting poems from the edge, confronting evil in all its manifestations, especially the bondage of sex and cruelty. They address highly contemporary issues, from confessionalism and reality TV to masculinity in crisis, racial politics and atheism.
Clare Pollard wrote most of these poems while still at school in Bolton. Too young, perhaps, to expect anyone to take her seriously, but young enough to question that assumption and much else besides. Her poems are fresh and energetic, barbed with a modern girl’s natural cynicism, but tempered with open-eyed hope as well as wry acceptance.
The book gives us the world according to Clare Pollard writing as a teenager, an insider’s in-your-face portrayal of the tarnished lives of today’s bright young things.
‘This is work you can’t ignore – raw, reckless and more bloody-minded than an older, so-called wiser poet would dare to be. Clare Pollard tells us what it’s like to be young, slim and pissed at the door of the 21st century’ – Selima Hill.