Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
The language of Jen Hadfield's poetry is one of incantation and secular praise. Her first book, Almanacs, was a travellers's litany, featuring a road movie in poems set in the north of Scotland. Nigh-No-Place is the liturgy of a poet passionately aware of the natural world.
Hadfield began her new book on the hoof, travelling across Canada with a ravenous appetite for new landscapes. She took epic routes: the railway line from Halifax to Vancouver and the Dempster Highway's 740 km of gravel road, ending in the Arctic oiltowns of Inuvik and Tuktoyuktuk. But it is in Shetland that she becomes acutely aware of her own voice - her fluency and tongue-tiedness; repetition, hiatus and breath.
Nigh-No-Place reflects the breadth of ground she's covered. 'Ten-minute Break Haiku' is her response to working in a fish factory. 'Paternoster' is the Lord's Prayer uttered by a draught-horse. 'Prenatal Polar Bear' takes place in Churchill, Manitoba, surrounded by tundra.
"Nigh-No-Place is a revelation: jaunty, energetic, iconoclastic ñ even devil-may-careÖ she is a remarkably original poet near the beginning of what is obviously going to be a distinguished career."
Andrew Motion, judge's comment on the T.S. Eliot Prize
"A zestful poet of the road, a beat poet of the upper latitudes, Jen Hadfield conjures poems and prose-poems of great spirit and imaginative daring from the northern landscapes. Lively, youthful and full of the joy of language."
"Onomatopoeia, alliteration, rhyme and a smattering of Shetland dialect supply Hadfield's world with a rackety music ñ claws on tarmac, a rock-chip hitting a windscreen, a waterproof crackling 'like a roasting rack of lamb' ñ which she orchestrates with a variety of forms including prose poems, incantations, spells and a prayerÖ When much contemporary poetry has about it a whiff of the coterie, Hadfield's refreshing voice carries all the way from the top of Scotland to blow some of the dust off British verse."
Stephen Knight, Independent
"There's barely a poem that does not contain a treasurably offbeat image...the vivid exuberance of her language wins you over."
Sarah Crown, The Guardian
"Fresh, original, perceptive."
Anne Donovan, The Scotsman (Books of the Year)
"A quick mind abroad alone in the ever-changing natural landscape. The language country-rooted, specific, of clear observation: a sophisticated, refreshing country brew."