A Change in the Air

'Two very different poetry collections are keeping my bedside table happy, Ocean Vuong's thrilling Time is a Mother and Jane Clarke's A Change in the Air. Some of Clarke's work, in particular, is so close to the way I am thinking now about care and compassion, I feel recognised and lifted by her lines.' - Anne Enright, The Irish Times. (The best books of 2023 so far)

'A Change in the Air, Jane Clarke's third collection, is a quiet, stoical meditation on fragility and mortality. Humanity takes its place within the rhythms of a natural world built on acceptance, community and renewal. The title promises the best kind of revolution: freshness and wholesomeness - and the poems which follow deliver on this... In Jane Clarke's hands, clarity, purity and strength speak for themselves. Her words are weighed and used sparingly. They take your breath away.' - John Field, T S Eliot Prize Reviewer.

'Held together/by gravity and friction, hearted with handfuls of spalls.' A Change in the Air is tightly packed. taking shards of pain and piercing them together to form a cohesive collection which is rooted in tenderness. Exploring what it means to connect with each other and our surroundings against a shifting cultural background, Clarke's poems are filled with quiet moments of humanity and a constant respect for her subject matter ... Since Clarke describes her work as 'word music' it is fitting the way this describes the collection itself. A Change in the Air is made up of six sequences and darts like the cormorant between ideas. Closing with powerful images that encapsulate the content, these poems linger like the disruption of water in the reader's mind ... Considering the scope of this collection, it could easily become disconnected but instead the reader is continuously grounded by that which surrounds us: neighbours, rivers, and the resilient heather. Across both time and place, Clarke shows us that taking care of the land is taking care of each other, is taking care of ourselves. With it's ambiguous title, A Change in the Air is asking us to engage with what that means as our environmental situation changes.'- Evelyn Byrne for the T S Eliot Prize Young Critics Scheme

'It is a really beautiful collection. I am moved to find all those flowers and birds so precisely placed, the farmstead nooks and crannies, the delicately nuanced exploration of big themes - the Great War, neighbourly gestures at a time of sectarian entanglement - generous pictures of (Jane Clarke's) soul-scape, love poems. Collections of this quality are very rare.'  - Michael Longley

'... this is s a very full collection. It has a very striking range and depth. It has the sense of worlds lived in, families, societies, ... poems about reality, about the world we live in and conveyed in ... particularly polished language.'  Eiléan Ní Chuiilleanáin introducing A Change in the Air at the book's launch on Dublin, 25 May 2023.

'Her verse attends so closely to the land and the people of her rural homeland that it makes us attend more closely to our own. This summer she published A Change in the Air, a collection that glides gently from caring for her mother to remembering the Troubles to moving into a new home in the countryside.' Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book Club, 29 September 2023.

'The poems that make up A Change in the Air manage to crystallise entire galaxies of feeling into short lyrices, even within singular lines, as if each word has been weighed by hand for value.'  Emily Driver, Era Journal, January 2023.

'A Change in the Air by Jane Clarke is a collection that deals with contemporary and historic rural life in Ireland, in particular its crafts and traditions. Set against accounts of queer love in a changing Ireland, these poems are moving, musical and true; each word chosen with deep care, each phrase made with a craftswoman's precision.' - Jessica Traynor, on behalf of the Forward Prize Judges 2023.

'The title of Jane Clarke's A Change in the Air rather neatly conjures the country dweller's sensitivity to the slightest shift in the weather, literal or figurative, meteorological or emotional. Though she may be influenced by Patrick Kavanagh and Ted Hughes and Alice Oswold, Jane manages to plough her own furrow in poems of farm and family life that are notable for her attentiveness to, and delight in, the telling detail.' - Paul Muldoon, on behalf of the T.S. Eliot Judges 2023.

'In a Change in the Air, Jane Clarke fills blank pages with craft and love and a real sense that the poet must always do the very best work that they can. The title of her collection is so apposite because it seems to me that all poetry is about lines and stanzas and the positioning of words on the page can indeed change the air.' - Ian McMillan introducing Jane's poems from the T.S. Eliot Readings as broadcast on The Verb, BBC Radio 3, 19 January 2024.

'Critical to Clarke's celebrated third collection, A Change in the Air, is how land bears witness to history. ...the politics seep through like water in a bog. The voice avoids rant and is more seductive and convincing for it.' - Lisa Kelly, Magma Poetry 88, 2024.

'Jane Clarke is a revelation. Her poems are concise, often in elegant honed couplets and triolets - perfectly shaped, deftly crafted, well controlled and tempered... Throughout, Clarke resists the easy polarities, the simple reading...' - Maggie Mackay, The Friday Poem, May 2024. Read the full review here. 

 'Her delicacy of expression, her minutely-observed descriptions, her almost teasing understatements all bring delight. Clarke appears to relish the opportunity to draw with a fine pencil, as she offers precise descriptions of ordinary events and experiences.' - Alwyn Marriage, London Grip, 13 November 2023. Read the full review here.

'What animates Jane Clarke are love and endurance: artfully calibrated, each section of A Change in the Air is an emotional complement to the next, for each poem hangs on one, or sometimes several, exquisitely clarified observations of landscape and of the figures in it, ... But most of all, for this poet who combines the near-mystical focus of Eavan Boland with Heaney's sense of history ad place, is the feeling of being sustained by family and landscape; more still, the reaching of an accord in the breaking of bread, in the understanding of a shared purpose beyond division and difference.' - Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times. Read the full review here.

'outstanding lyrical poems of place and heart...In unsentimental poems and with great tenderness, Clarke attends to her mother's decline. In a deeply personal way, she allows the reader to know or remember the terrible privilege of caring for a parent...Clarke's poems are above all else accessible, and in being so, the poet honours her reader. She removes a language blind, bringing us to the beating heart of her work. A Change in the Air is a generous collection by a poet resolute but gentle in the matter of emotional truth. - Eleanor Hooker, Books Ireland. Read the full review here.

'The delight and haunting memorability of the elegies that open her third book of poems, A Change in the Air, can partly be explained by an ability to turn moments of steady objectivity into disclosures of emotion and insight. ... There is a related sense of fortitude throughout A Change in the Air. Human love is one explanation. But the factor of Clarke's idealism with respect ot wildlife and landscape keeps returning. She is temperamentally inclined to give primacy to the non-human. Fixated on the peace and interrelatedness of natural forms, her verses are frames for green knowledge presented in the light of an informed concern for biodiversity, and a curiosity about animal experience generally.' - Martin Dyar, Poetry Ireland Review, Issue 140

'Clarke's precision and clean lines, together with her detailing of domestic life against historical events, brought to mind Eavan Boland: in 'Flight'set in the Troubles, neighbours helped the family load 'mattresses, blankets, rugs, cups and saucers,/wrapped in tea towels, a can of milk, gifts of cabbage and soda break.' as they left, 'family bible at their feet'... I particularly enjoyed the pared-back titles, juxtaposed with Clarke's fine lyricism, such as in 'Eggs': 'she poured fresh water/ and ladled corn into the dented tin dish, /adding handfuls of seeds and grit'...- Mary Mulholland, The Alchemy Spoon, Issue 10

'Air is not only in the title but is suggested, subliminally, by the white space surrounding these poems. ... the pages have an appealing visual lightness. This works well with her spare, focused language. Her poems have a quiet directness and immediacy, an un-fussiness that gives them clarity, ... - D. A Prince, Orbis, Issue 206

'... a collection which displays an impressive, pared back emotional restraint, precise observations of the natural world, and an exploration of how people and landscapes, the voices of the past and the present, can affect our lives, all traits in her previous two collections, The River and When the Tree Falls, both Bloodaxe Books as well.' - Enda Wylie, Books for Breakfast Podcast, February 2024.

'... a lyrical journey through nature, relationship and time. ... 'You could say it begins' is a word map of the newly created border while 'Flight' catches the fear and trauma of those finding themselves on the "wrong" side of the border. ... Scattered through the book are evocative glimpses of nature, Because wild rose fills the garden/to the sultry-scented brim ('June') - a delightful poem to end a moving collection.' - Kaye Lee, Artemis Poetry, Issue 30, May 2023.



 
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