Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Author du Jour: Jen Hadfield

(lifted en masse from uk.poetryinternationalweb.org)
Hadfield was born in Cheshire in 1978. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2003 and was given a Scottish Arts Council Writer's Bursary in 2002 to help her complete her first collection Almanacs which was published by Bloodaxe in 2005. She used her Eric Gregory Award to fund a year's residence in Canada, where she has family, giving readings from Halifax to Vancouver. She continues to indulge her passion for getting words onto objects, and uses linocut, photography, woodwork, bookbinding and fly-tying in her artist books, which she calls “Rogue Seeds”.

Although an English writer, study, residence and travel in Scotland and Canada have been central to Hadfield's poetry thus far. Almanacs is a reassuringly different debut, hard to pin down, and with no signs of stepping in the prints of the previous generation. Kathleen Jamie has called her “a zestful poet of the road, a beat poet of the upper latitudes”, while Tom Leonard described “a quick mind abroad . . . a coquettish dance of nature’s primal forces . . . a whole and committed poet”.

Hadfield is certainly a nature poet, but a dazzling, contemporary one and her work never suffers from the shallow philosophizing or haughty self-reflection which undermines much poetry centred on landscape and travel. Even when set in remote places, her work is infused with colloquial speech, cars, popular music, modern myth. How fabulous to discover such a responsive poet, excited by her surroundings, who so clearly delights in matching experience and language.

Jen Hadfield is an excellent performer of her poems and refreshingly hard-to-place on the contemporary British poetry map. In spirit, perhaps, she is closest to Edwin Morgan, the senior Scottish poet who has ranged across the whole of such a map with equal parts seriousness and levity. For a poet still in her mid-twenties, she offers not just promise, but a direction for other young writers to follow.

But Wait! There's More:
(a biographical update, care of The Guardian UK)
A relative newcomer to poetry who has been widely praised for her passion and awareness of the natural world has tonight won one of the genre's grandest awards – the TS Eliot prize for poetry.

Four Poems by Hadfield:
In The Same Way
No Snow Fell On Eden
Melodeon On The Road Home

Related Links:
Hadfield's blog, rogueseeds
Hadfield selects her Top Five Musical Moments