Flinching in my hands
this soiled and studded but good heart,
which stippling my cupped palms, breathes –
a kidney flinching on a hot griddle,
or very small Hell’s Angel, peeled from the verge
of a sweet, slurred morning.
Drunk, I coddle it like a crystal ball,
hellbent the realistic mysteries
should amount to more than guesswork
from Nigh-No-Place (Tarset: Bloodaxe Books, 2008)
Jen Hadfield, the youngest poet to win the T.S. Eliot Prize, ‘a beat poet of the upper latitudes’ as Kathleen Jamie described her, has chosen to settle on Shetland, over a hundred miles north of the Scottish mainland. Of English and Canadian descent, a visual as well as verbal artist, Hadfield has travelled widely in Canada and Scotland, and her poetry of these landscapes is startlingly immediate, a feat of fresh vision of ancient nature. You can see this in miniature in her description of the hedgehog (Hamnavoe is the main settlement on West Burra), kidney-shaped and clad like a motorcyclist in its studded skin.
Hadfield’s linguistic exuberance has led her to explore the vocabulary of the Shetlands, particularly in her latest collection, Byssus (Picador, 2014). One title from that collection, ‘We climb the hill in the dark and the children are finally given back their iPhones’, suggests the cultures which she manages to connect, writing in the app-light as well as the long dark/light of the north.
Find out more about Jen Hadfield and hear her read here:https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poets/jen-hadfield
and on her own website:https://rogueseeds.blogspot.co.uk/
Friends, we need your help. We need to raise £100,000 for the building renovation which will hugely extend our reach. Your gift helps us to give: to lend books; to send books, poetry postcards and poets around Scotland; to record and send poets’ voices around the world; to bring people and poems together in care homes, schools, hospitals…
Go to www.justgiving.com/byleaveswegive or www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/about/support-our-work to donate online