This collection is deservedly shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize. It would make an excellent Christmas present for those tricky grown up relatives who have everything. Here's why: The poems recall the cold winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11. If this winter is cold, these poems will enrich the experience of it. If it's not, it'll make up for the loss of the proper season. And it's slim, and will slip onto any bookshelf without littering the house with something unwanted.
There's little about frost, ice and snow that Gillian Clarke has not observed. In poem after beautiful poem, she reveals the beauty and cruelty of cold - with its knives, splinters, breath, stitchwork, music, silver bones ... I could go on.
It also has Clarke's characteristic warmth: 'Home for Christmas' is a favourite of mine ...
'I sleep, wake, sleep again dreaming in stories,
turning, turning, landlocked in myth,
our white room drifted deep
in moon-work of the silversmith.'
I'm there. I want that sleep, that room lit by snow, that beauty, that recollection of being 'young and bold, bravely in love'.
There are other poems too - 66 pages of poems. Every one of them worth reading. This book is good value too.