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The way couch grass takes hold of a garden,

spreads seeds, runners, white rhizomes

long before we notice, the way it grows


more tenacious when we begin to dig,

gathering different names – dog grass,

scutch grass, quick grass, twitch grass,


the way it creeps along the ground,

then sends a root deep down,

slips silent under fences, colonises beds


and gets itself entangled through agapanthus

Midnight Blue, the way that it persists,

the way that it persists.



© Jane Clarke

Picture 12489281, chromolithograph after an illustration by Walther Muller in Hermann Adolph Koehler, Medicinal Plants, Germany, 1887, image copyright Mary Evans / Florilegius Collection



Jane Clarke’s first collection, The River, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015 to public and critical acclaim. Her second book-length collection, When the Tree Falls, will be published by Bloodaxe on 26 September 2019. All the Way Home, her illustrated booklet of poems, inspired by the Auerbach family World War One archive held by the Mary Evans Picture Library, was published by Smith|Doorstop in April 2019. The River was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, given for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry evoking the spirit of a place. In 2016 Jane won the Hennessy Literary Award for Emerging Poetry and the inaugural Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year Award. She was awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Literary Bursary in 2017. Jane holds a BA in English & Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin, an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales, and has a background in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. She grew up on a farm in Roscommon and now lives with her partner in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow, where she combines writing with her work as creative writing tutor and group facilitator.