• Earthworks

Earthworks by Jacqueline Gabbitas


“This wonderful sequence of poems cuts into the earth beneath the thin layer of soil to articulate a voice that knots life to death.” Earthworks is a collection of celebration, of the lives that are lived above ground, and the those that exist deep beneath it.

Out of stock

Categories: ,


Thumprint pocket books series no.1

This wonderful sequence of poems cuts into the earth beneath the thin layer of soil to articulate a voice that knots life to death. Gabbitas’s language is vital, visceral, having its effect directly in our body. The poetics of direct speech and the richness of vocabulary brings the reader in contact with the raw reality of life. This is profoundly moving poetry that repays re-reading and bearing close to the heart. – Sharon Morris

Jacqueline Gabbitas’ poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review and The Forward Prize Anthology. Her short collections include Mid Lands (Hearing Eye Press), Earthworks and Small Grass (Stonewood Press) and she’s read at The Oxford Times Literary Festival, The Poetry Cafe and for BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. She’s an editor on Brittle Star, a Hawthornden Fellow and was awarded an ACE Grant for the Arts to complete a book-length environmental poem The Book of Grass. She works for Writing East Midlands.

What people have been saying

The direct, bald and careful style of Jacqueline Gabbitas’s poems quickly announces they have no time for decorative, wordy business, and instead prioritize the nut of the idea, the thing. Earthworks describes a pagan harshness to landscape, but with frankness, and none of the forced poetic mysticism too often found in poems about the natural world. There are reservoirs, deer shelters, minerals and buried birds, and these things are treated unsentimentally, are leant against human dramas, as in ‘Bird Buried’. Her poems have the bedside manner of someone who understands the gravity of death, big sadness, a bit of geology even, but is also used to breaking bad news. These are skillful and easy poems that underplay their music and profundity. – Jack Underwood, Poetry London (no.75)

ISBN: 978-0-9569122-3-7
Publisher: Stonewood Press
Price: £4.99 (Thumbprint Pocket book – Poetry)
Extent: 32 pages
Publication: September 2012

Additional information

Weight 90 g
Dimensions 110 × 154 × 4 mm

2 reviews for Earthworks by Jacqueline Gabbitas

  1. Gina Wilson

    In Earthworks, Jacqueline Gabbitas delves into earth and soul, finding each in each. It’s an attractive pocket-sized volume with smooth grey covers bearing Martin Parker’s patterned design of earth’s layers (what lies beneath the surface, and what bursts through). These are the layers Gabbitas introduces in her first poem, ‘Overlaid’, delighting in specialised vocabulary.
    Above soil level, she takes us on explorations of nature. In ‘Damflask’, we find ‘‘chub’’, ‘‘pike’’, ‘‘heron’’, ‘‘horseshoe bats’’, creatures nurtured by the reservoir, as well as learning of the water’s shocking destructive power.
    This theme of the earth’s power both to heal and destroy (often expressed with a sense of urgency) recurs throughout, along with a fascination with meetings of life and death, and elemental change. As well as in earth and water, Gabbitas rejoices in fire, her language burning in ‘Handfast Fire’ (where the shape of the poem on the page (especially when held sideways) leaps like the flames themselves), and ‘April End (Beltane)’.
    She has the gift of building powerful visual images, as in the evocative and moving ‘The Padfield Horse’. Her enjoyment of language, playing with meanings (‘Lappen’), poetic form (‘High Hills’), and dialect (‘I’ve no soul to tell you on’, and ‘Wood & Stone’) is infectious.
    The pamphlet is a celebration of earth and all it holds. Her closing poem, ‘Stigmaria’, describing a fossilised root, seals its warmth and generosity… It’s there always, a kind of reassurance,
/ this beautiful grey root. It will be lifted,
/ dusted, placed back with love, a history
/ of love, a simple needing of its presence,
/ and looked at everyday.

  2. Nick Asbury

    The first thing to say is that this collection scores high on ‘coherence’. From the title to the cover artwork and illustrated endpapers, this nicely produced chapbook is immersed in earthy matter. Almost every poem contains some reference to clay, soil, stone, flint, peat, fossils, diamonds, bones… But the best parts of this collection manage to achieve that state where the language and the subject matter become one. In the opening poem ‘Overlaid’, the sound the words make is wonderfully sticky and earthy… the use of dialogue is a signal of the poet’s wider intention to use language in a way that feels physical and visceral, which is the overriding strength of this collection. Having spent a while flicking through its pages, you almost expect to find dirt under your fingernails.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.