Gillian Clarke

Black and white image of Gillian Clarke, courtesy of Poetry Live

Last updated: 04 January 2011

Gillian Clarke is one of Wales' most influential and widely read contemporary writers, and is the current National Poet of Wales. Her work is studied by GCSE students throughout Britain. (Photo courtesy of Poetry Live.)

She was born in Cardiff in 1937 to Welsh speaking parents, and lived in Cardiff, Penarth and Pembrokeshire during her upbringing, the latter during wartime.

She graduated from the University of Wales, Cardiff with a degree in English and worked at the BBC in London for a year before returning to Wales and taking up teaching posts.

In the mid 1980s Clarke moved to rural Ceredigion where she now runs an organic small-holding. In 1990 she co-founded Ty Newydd writers' centre in North Wales, of which she is the president. Since 1994 she has also been a tutor in creative writing at the University of Glamorgan in addition to working as a freelance tutor.

Clarke has wide experience as an editor and translator, having worked on the Anglo Welsh Review and on various children's anthologies of poetry, and she has translated poetry in Welsh to English from writers such as Menna Elfyn and T Llew Jones.

She has received three Poetry Book Society recommendations for her works: Letting In The Rumour in 1989, The King Of Britain's Daughter in 1993 and Five Fields in 1998. In 1999 she was awarded the Glyndŵr Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales.

In March 2008 Clarke was announced as the third National Poet of Wales, succeeding Professor Gwyn Thomas.

In 2009 she published a new collection of poetry, A Recipe for Water, and wrote a poem to mark the inauguration of new president Barack Obama.

In the autumn of 2009 Clarke was involved in the Celtic Myths project for the BBC Wales History website and wrote the story Sabrina's Mountain Adventure, which is narrated by Ruth Jones.

In April 2010 she wrote a sonnet entitled Blue Sky Thinking, inspired by the ban on air travel in the UK due to the volcanic ash cloud emitted by Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

In the autumn of 2010 Clarke embarked on a poetry tour of Wales, and wrote a tour diary for the BBC Wales Arts website.

In December 2010 it was announced that Clarke was the winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. She will receive her honour from the Queen in 2011.

Selected bibliography

  • The Sundial (1978)
  • Letter from a Far Country (1982)
  • Letting In The Rumour (1989)
  • The King Of Britain's Daughter (1993)
  • Five Fields (1998)
  • Making The Beds For The Dead (2004)
  • A Recipe for Water (2009)

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