Tuesday 17 September 2019

Jane is rooted in rural life

Jane Clarke
Jane Clarke

Jane Clarke's stunning debut poetry collection The River, which was published by Bloodaxe Books on, has been launched with a string of high-profile events.

Anne Enright launched the book in Dublin on June 24 - making The River Hodges Figgis' number one best-seller across all genres - with Marie Heaney doing the honours in Wicklow.

Also agreeing to launch the book in Boyle was Geraldine Mitchell and Moya Cannon in Galway.

Jane readily admits that the waves her poetry collection has already caused comes as something of a surprise.

'The reaction so far has been absolutely wonderful. The book is doing very well too.

'It was number one best seller in Hodges Figgis during the first week of its released, which is great for a debut collection of poetry.

'Even the next week it was still number nine on the best sellers list so I am very happy so far with the response.'

The River is rooted in rural life, owing much to Jane Clarke's upbringing on a farm, and evokes the natural world with delicacy and feeling.

Considering it was her debut poetry collection, Jane was unsure of how 'The River' would be received. She needn't have worried.

'It's so hard to know how poetry collections will do. Usually they don't sell as much as other books, such as works of fiction.

'I have to admit though that so far the reaction 'The River' has received is beyond my wildest dreams.'

Jane grew up on a farm in Roscommon in the west of Ireland. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin and an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales. She has a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and combines writing with her work as a management consultant in not-for-profit organisations.

A move to the Garden County helped to inspire her writing skills

'I came to live in Wicklow 20 years ago but only started my own poetry ten years ago. When we first moved to Wicklow I did have the idea of writing.

'We live in a beautiful part of the county, between Glenmalure and Rathdrum. I grey up on a farm and moving to Wicklow rekindled all these childhood memories I had of living in the countryside.

'The surroundings here definitely inspired a lot of my work. There is some absolutely breathtaking scenery around here. It's hard not to pick up some sort of inspiration by this old and beautiful landscape.'

Her poems are widely published in journals, newspapers and anthologies.

She received the Listowel Writer's Week Poetry Collection Prize in 2014 and has won a number of other prizes including Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition (2014), Poems for Patience (2013), iYeats (2010), Listowel Writers Week (2007). Runner-up in the Fish International Poetry Competition (2015), Poetry Ireland/Trocaire Competition (2013) and the Listowel Writers Week Poetry Collection Competition (2013).

She was also short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Competition 2013, the Hennessy New Irish Writing Literary Awards 2013 and 2014, the Hippocrates Prize (2013), Mslexia Poetry Competition (2012), Fish Poetry Prize (2009 and 2012).

In 2009, she was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and was awarded an arts bursary by Wicklow County Council.

'To receive such recognition for your work has been very encouraging. It helps drive you on,' adds Jane.

Marie Heaney, Seamus Heaney's widow, launched 'The River' in Bridge Street Books last month. Her late husband was one of Jane's favourite poets.

'He was an important influence on my work but sadly I never got to meet him,' says Jane.

'I was thinking about who would be the most suitable people to launch 'The River' and, for Wicklow, I immediately thought of Marie Heaney. I contacted her and sent her a PDF of the book and she said she would be delighted to help with the launch.'

Marie also gave her own glowing account of the collection, commenting 'from the moment I opened this collection, I knew the poems were the real thing and I'm used to real poetry.'

Now Jane is looking forward to touring the country promoting 'The River'.

'I love doing readings. Poetry is meant to be heard so I can't wait to get out there and engage with the readers.'

The glowing reviews critics have lavished on 'The River' has also lent Jane plenty of encouragement.

'It's wonderful - I suppose you really have no idea how your poetry is going to be received. When I first heard Bloodaxe Books were interested in me it was like a dream come true. I never really managed to look beyond that. Poetry mightn't be the top art form by any means but it is certainly increasing in popularity, especially in Ireland. There seems to be something of a poetry resurgence here. Book-shops are selling well and something is definitely happening.'

Wicklow People