Bedlam Cowslip: The John Clare Poems

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By: Jeanette Lynes

October 2015
80 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-05-9

**Winner of the 2016 Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award**

In this new collection, Jeanette Lynes turns her attention to the life and work of John Clare (1793–1864), the renowned poet of the countryside and one of England’s greatest working-class bards. In these poems, the Romantic world of Clare – strewn with wildflowers and dizzy with birdsong – is visited by a new, postmodern voice, and the conversation that ensues is both profound and dazzling. Painstakingly researched and deftly crafted, these poems share Clare’s loves, ambitions, rages and failures. Lynes has created an uplifting poetic biography on a bright poetic star that has been rising for over a century.

"Love’s Sites"

A sedge-bird cock drops caterpillars
into the female’s gaping gob. Titmouse feeds
her young 120 caterpillars in thirty minutes  –
imagine a whole day! The plum trees love
being rid of those caterpillars.
Caterpillars cannot love – no time, their fat rainbow fur
bait alone. Look to trees for passion – the gold wren
pastes her eggs to the nest with fir-gum, eggs
saved from wind-lash.  Anyone would paste his children
down. Look to the knees –
my small daughter warming mine. A cuckoo
shot (not by me) – the inside of its mouth was of a fine red.
Look not to rifles for love, or caterpillars.


Pummeling the Enemy Volta (Cora Siré, Arc Poetry Magazine, 10/04/2017)
"By contemporizing Clare’s language with dazzling wit, Lynes generously transfers her brilliance to her subject."

To prog, to swee, to haynishly versify (Anita Lahey, Fiddlehead, 19/10/2016)
"Cloaking herself in the linguistic and political passions of a nineteenth-century peasant-poet boy wonder, Lynes succeeds in reanimating a remarkable, singular voice that might otherwise be hard for many contemporary ears to truly hear, while at the same time inflecting it with her own accent: that of a woman writing in the post-colonial twenty-first century, many generations after the societal changes and tensions that affected Clare, but in a time when his own concerns ring ominously clear."

"Outrageous Intelligence: Two New Collections of Poems from Buckrider Books, 2015" (Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews, 28/10/2015)
“A real rapacious romp through the fields of blooms and language. The reader instantly draws closer to Clare and his era through Lynes’ wicked ability to empathize with the thoughts, motions, aches and losses of this singular poet.”


"Under the Cover: Begun in Grief and Silence—The Writing of Bedlam Cowslip" (All Lit Up, 03/03/2016)

"To help pass the time, Lynes wandered the grounds, which included “a lovely little library” where she found Jonathan Bate’s biography of Romantic poet John Clare. Says Lynes:

I was instantly enchanted, took the biography back to my room, crawled into bed and read. ‘If I can’t write,’ thought I, ‘at least I can read.’"

"The Shaken and the Stirred – Canadian Poets Rock the UK" (Grace O'Connell, Open Book Toronto, 04/11/2015)
“It was amazing to be in a pub that existed when John Clare was alive, amazing to sip a pint in a pub where the Bee Gees played billiards, and amazing to stand, with Catherine Graham and Holly Luhning into front of the house where Sylvia Plath first lived.”



Bedlam Cowslip

Other titles by Jeanette Lynes

Archive of the Undressed (2012)
The New Blue Distance (2009)
Left Fields (2003)
A Woman Alone on the Atikokan Highway (1999)

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