Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jen Hadfield

While we were in Scotland, I picked up a few books by Scottish poets. I haven't managed to read anywhere near all of them yet, but a highlight so far has been Nigh-No-Place by Jen Hadfield. The book caused a bit of a sensation across the pond, as Hadfield, at the tender age of 30, became the youngest author ever to win the TS Eliot Prize. The book was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize. And justly so. I love the colloquial vigour, formal inventiveness and restless venturing of this book; I don't get that snap of connection with very many contemporary collections, but I do with this one.

Hadfield, it turns out, has Canadian roots (and citizenship), as her mother's from this side, and much of the book was written during, or about, extensive travels through Canada, going from Halifax to Vancouver by train--I wonder...--and up the Dempster Highway into the Western Arctic. Such latitudes are not unfamiliar to her--even if the landscapes would have been--as she lives in Shetland, north of the Scottish mainland (and nominally Scottish, but don't dare suggest as much to the locals). Most of the best poems in the book are rooted in the Shetlands and are peppered with Shetlandic vocabulary.

Hear me Read Jen Hadfield's "Self-portrait as a Fortune-telling Miracle Fish" (with thanks to Bloodaxe Books for permission)

Some links:

Profile at Poetry International

Interview at Abe Books

Another interview

A poem

4 poems

Hear Jen Hadfield read "Paternoster"

Review of Nigh-No-Place

Another Review

Article in The Independent

Article in The Times, including 3 poems


Unknown said...

Thank you for your reading

Zachariah Wells said...

My pleasure, Edmund, thanks for commenting.