On April 9 we had the pleasure of hosting (at West Greenwich Library) award-winning Irish poet Jane Clarke reading from All the Way Home, her sequence of twenty-one poems responding to one family’s experience of WW1, hot off the press (Smith Doorstop). And what a treat it was!
The backstory: Gill Stoker of the Mary Evans Picture Library (Blackheath), having received a vast archive of letters, drawings, documents and photographs relating to the Auerbach family from Patricia Aubrey (niece of the ‘protagonists’ of this pamphlet) had asked Jane if she could write something in response to it. Jane was awarded a literary bursary form the Arts Council of Ireland, which allowed her to spend eighteen months researching and writing. We were privileged to hear the result just days after publication and the Dublin launch, and before next week’s Manchester launch. Almost by chance, Jane had met Blake Morrison in Dublin late last year, and he agreed to introduce her works on the night, reading two beautiful poems from her previous book (River, Bloodaxe 2015) and from the one due out later in the year, also from Bloodaxe.
The emotional landscape of war for those at the Front and at home is illustrated by Jane’s sequence and the poignant photographs accompanying it. And ‘landscape’ is the key word here, because as Jane explained, the natural world offered her a way in, becoming a unique facilitator with its gift for metaphor and beauty, the everyday and the extraordinary, for echoing losses and the small joys one can experience even in the midst of a catastrophe.
For a ‘proper’ review, do read The Yorkshire Times
Photographs by Paul Brown (Mary Evans Picture Library)