Polly Clark is an award-winning poet and novelist. Afterlife draws on her three previous books of poetry, Kiss, the T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted Take Me with You, and Farewell My Lovely, as well as a new collection, Afterlife.
In the magical world of Afterlife there are no longer physical limits, nothing is stable and the world is distilled to its elements. The traumatic experience of rape transforms a girl into a tiger, and a tiger into a girl; a whale embraces both air and water until forced to inhabit only one by jealous fish. The poems grapple with the inexplicable nature of some experience, suggesting that we are most real in that mysterious space between living and dying.
‘A rich and appealingly mysterious collection in which the end of youth, the birth of a child and the strangeness of marriage are filtered through an exact imagination, whose great strengths lie in taking nothing for granted and finding the point where the ordinary and the eternal intersect.’ – Sean O'Brien, Sunday Times, on Farewell My Lovely
‘Clark has a gift for startling, truthful analysis, for example of the power of marriage and our vulnerability within it: ‘Its strength shocked me./ Dragged me. Reset me.’ There are resonant poems about female experience which are also searingly universal…. Throughout the poems in Farewell My Lovely ideas are anchored in the real world with recognisable images, but suddenly wrenched out of the commonplace, shocking the reader out of any complacency. These are poems you can return to again and again. I recommend that you do.’ – Catherine Czerkawska, The Edinburgh Review
‘Polly Clark has mastered the necessary art of saying two things at once. The surface of her poems maintains a bright, even brisk tone; it’s full of fresh, unexpected phrasings. And yet the imagery points to a darker underbelly. It’s a poetry in which our certainties are tested and exposed as brittle.’ – W.N. Herbert, PBS Bulletin
‘The strength of this collection lies in images so precisely right that they immediately establish the authenticity of whichever perspective is adopted. Her carefully weighted words build pictures of remarkable clarity.’ – Sarah Crown, Guardian