"I am thrilled to be patron of this simple and simply beautiful idea. Poetry is going down to the sea again."
Carol Ann Duffy
Throughout 2011, Sea Swimmers swam in Scarborough's South Bay as part of imove, the Cultural Olympiad Programme in Yorkshire. They were led bravely into the waves by poet John Wedgwood Clarke, whose eighteen-poem sequence inspired by this experience has now been collected in book form and published by Valley Press.
The poems explore the fluent, fragile and sometimes agonisingly pleasurable relationship between the swimmer, the land and the sea around Scarborough; how swimming transforms the way we feel ourselves to be in our bodies, and the liberating effects these changes have on the imagination. Sea Swim may be as close as you can get to swimming in the sea without donning a wetsuit.
"His work is amongst the best to have emerged from new poets in this country over the past two or three years."
(from Sea Swim, Valley Press, 2012)
souls are exhaled from moist things
The sea has chilled and cockled this book.
Words migrate through its pages:
both doors of the chalet are open; the horizon
a lightly tapped tuning fork.
There’s nothing to record but your absence.
A tiny spider, auburn-legged, light
as sea foam, sews along the table’s aluminium edge.
I write in absentia, snow on the sea.
John Wedgwood Clarke trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and holds a D.Phil. in Modernist poetics from the University of York. He is currently Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences at the University of Hull, Scarborough. He was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize in 2010, and commended in the National Poetry Competition in the same year for his poem 'Stubble'. He grew up in St. Ives, Cornwall, and now lives in Scarborough.