This week we mark a change in the editorial panel of The Clearing. For the last four years, since its beginnings in August 2013 with Katrina Porteous’ ‘The Refuge Box’, we have enjoyed seeking, gathering, reading and selecting an abundance of the most extraordinary new writing about landscape and place. It has been an exciting time for this kind of writing. It is an exciting time. Ever more, we’re seeing the best writers struggle for fresh ways of responding to a changing a world. We’ve published essays, short fiction, poetry, interviews, visual art, and many pieces that are just too hard to fit into the usual genres and conventions, pledging their form to the subject under scrutiny instead.
We’ve been bowled over by the generosity of those we’ve published and worked with (among them Tim Dee, Philip Gross, Jen Hadfield, Penelope Shuttle, Richard Skelton, Peter Larkin, Philip Marsden, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, and Nick Groom) and we are very sad to be moving on. But The Clearing itself will continue! It now sits under the watchful eye of Little Toller Books, with whom we’ve been very pleased to collaborate over the last few years. And there is a new editorial team who will be taking the site forward. We could not have asked for better successors – Pippa Marland, Steven Lovatt and Michael Malay are your new team in charge, as passionate about the cultures of landscape and place as we have ever been and as sharp-eyed and hungry for good writing. So do please continue to follow the site, enjoy this new generation, and do think of it as place to send work in search of those distinctive visions, rural or urban, modern or prehistoric, industrial, post-industrial, fantastical, natural, political, however they come, meaningful, surprising and felt.
As goodbye from us then, we’re publishing one last poem each. Thank you for reading!
SELF PORTRAIT IN A TRAIN WINDOW
after Edward Thomas
The in here that’s out there tonight
seems a spillage and excess on the day,
our twice reflected carriage gone to ghost,
opened and dragged like flightless wings beside us.
And doubled, tripled, we’re out there, belittled,
the half there, the half us, split, remaindered others.
A wash of rain passes through their cotton shirts,
their paperwork and edamame beans, touching nothing.
‘Who then?’ These old uninhabitants of earth,
glazed and compelled: so organised,
making the next thing happen. Making
the next. Next stop making the bright beam
first step future forward. The glimmer
of growth making real growth
happen. We are
Outflanked. Outnumbered. ‘Who then?’
Lightning shows a field of swans and a river.
DISPLAY OF OWLS
Stump bowl leash ‘my name is Rupert’
Stump bowl leash gold leaf
Stump bowl leash winged-brick
Stump bowl leash ‘my name is Evie’
Stump bowl leash yellow angel with an Ash Wednesday face
Walking inland, sand in the seams
of my coat, salt crusting
the one bent hawthorn of my thoughts,
I looked up
and saw myself standing among trees.
I had forgotten
that the world could be so vertical,
that there were pressures that could hold
things upright against the wind.
I knew that water, hurling itself against rocks
could catch the light and hold it mid up-shoot,
but I had forgotten that water and light
could fuse into such solidity.
To stand in rockpool stillness and hear the tideline
in the sky.
I have lost my bearings before, been turned
by a heavy break until I no longer knew which way was up,
but to walk here,
where depth runs the horizontal axis –
I had forgotten all of this.
And even though I could already see the limits
of the tree line –
a buckled wire fence
the herring bones of fields –
I emptied my pockets of coral husks, plastic tags
and bright white stones
and laid a trail
against forgetting my way home.
WOODLOUSE IN THE BIRD BATH
looking for a reflection in the bird bath / I found you, pale and saturated
You drank through your ass
and mouth, heading home
and water soaked in through your shell
a way you don’t remember
and so you died, imbibing,
hungry as a black hole
God, I know your joy / those moments we walk weightless / across the slate
Jos Smith is an author and academic with an interest in the contemporary cultures of landscape and place. He lives in Norwich where he teaches at UEA. He has published a first volume of poetry with Arc Publications, Subterranea, and more recently a pamphlet with Guillemot Press, Sun.
Ben Smith is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Plymouth University. His first poetry chapbook, Sky Burials, is published by Worple Press, and his other writing has appeared in various journals, magazines and anthologies. He is the co-organiser of Crosscurrents, an interdisciplinary project bringing together poets and marine scientists for public engagement. He lives in North Cornwall.
Isabel Galleymore’s debut pamphlet is Dazzle Ship (Worple Press, 2014). Her work has featured in Poetry, Poetry London and Poetry Review and she received an Eric Gregory Award in 2017. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.
Luke Thompson has two poetry pamphlets out, Robot Squirrel (zimZalla, 2017) and the clearing (Atlantic, 2016). In 2016 he wrote a biography of the deaf-blind syphilitic sex mystic poet Jack Clemo, entitled Clay Phoenix (Ally). He is editor of Guillemot Press and a lecturer at Falmouth University.