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Indigo Dreams, 2021

Here are poems about my two long and long-ago bicycle journeys in Europe – encounters with Romanesque saints, cold campsites, lost dogs, landladies and juggernauts. Here is a homage to the bicycle and to being young.

‘Under leaves, wheels flash a fallen sunlight
in the lanes. Cold farms
are hung with hoarfrost

and stiff sheets. We stop for water
by an orchard, pinch two pears
from over the ditch’.

In both 1980, and 1987, and accompanied each time by a different but equally patient companion, I set off cycling into winter – young, penniless, chilblained and camping. I covered almost 9000 miles, and was never the same again.

‘It was cheap, clean and large, just off the Gran Via.
It was first floor, had an iron balcony we could cook on.
It had a cama de matriomonio, bare floorboards
and no heating. It had a lovely landlady in a pinny.’

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Fair Acre Press, 2021
Old Shropshire words are the inspiration for my twelve poems which celebrate the county, its language and its strong sense of place. Each of the words and phrases featured were discovered in the marvellously obscure ‘Shropshire Word-Book’, published in Shrewsbury in 1879. ‘Fan-peckled’ just means ‘freckled’ and was collected in Wem and Whitchurch. Each word or phrase in the Word-Book is translated into Standard English, and given a provenance to show where it was collected, long ago in the 1870s.  So from Bishop’s Castle comes ‘shalligonaked’, from Wellington ‘noon-spell’ and from Much Wenlock, ‘barley-child’.

‘An outstanding pamphlet, technically brilliant! It’ll be a great success, its charm and substance, and there are some really subtle and profound poems in here. I can only admire this work’. Steve Griffiths

‘A collaboration in which both parties were honoured and enabled to shine. Atkin is no stranger to writing about country life, the landscape, its myths and traditions. She writes with warmth and wit and a great sense of respect for the natural world, but never shies away from exploring mysterious and darker themes. Alston’s often muted palette with a mixture of clear outlines defining important objects and more sketchy mark-making to suggest movement and texture, is a perfect match for the poetry. The swish of horse tails, leaf and petal shapes, the wind on barley fields, on water and in trees, sheep sheltering from rain, birds soaring high above fields, place names on maps – all pure joy. This is a book to return to again and again to lift the spirits.’ Pat Edwards

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How Time is in Fields
Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2019
‘Luminous and earthy’ (Cheltenham Poetry Festival).
This collection explores the way place contains all times, as well as traces of our recognisable predecessors.   There’s a lot of walking in this book, and an alertness to our shared space – with other lives, other creatures, other centuries. The round of the year is divided into the Old English months, reflecting shifts of folklore, season and state of mind. 
How rife they are in the lost places’, writes Jean Atkin of nettles. How rife is Atkin’s sharpened imagination in this intelligent, alert and brilliantly-wrought collection, in which the lost and invisible places of human history and the natural world are brought to teeming life.’  
David Morley

‘The book is marvellous. It is absolutely grounded in the landscape so much so that at times the reader feels the landscape and its inhabitants are speaking directly to us. And the language is earthy and idiomatic. I keep returning to individual poems, but wherever and whenever I dip in I am immediately enclosed in that net which binds the whole together.
A real achievement.’
John Killick

This intriguing volume of poetry grounded in folklore, rural landscapes, animals and humans and the elusive quality of time itself, is not to be missed.  Atkin’s strengths [are] beautiful phrasing, keen observation and that certain knack of expressing things seen and unseen, the ambivalence that is half-in and half-out of one’s poetic imagination’. 
Review by Neil Leadbeater in Write Out Loud, December 2019

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Luck's Weight front cover final

Luck’s Weight
Biscuit Tin Press 2015

Poems from my residency at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm, with photographs by renowned nature photographer Andrew Fusek Peters.

‘These poems cross land and time in the same step… their craft takes the reader close to the land and the labour upon which, despite all our forgetting, we still depend”.
 Dr Gregory Leadbetter

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Jean Atkin final coverFront

Not Lost Since Last Time 
Oversteps Books 2013

“It is impossible to praise this first full collection highly enough.  These are poems of great imaginative resonance, the work of a woman very close to life, able to feel the life of a house, listening to its past. In ‘O you angels, who guard the people’ (a line from Hildegard of Bingen), she tells us how she would ‘cajole deep memories out of walls: / calls, cries and prayers soaked into stone. / The ghosts walking, lifting latches.”
Anna Crowe, reviewing in The Dark Horse Spring/Summer 2013.

“In poems that flow naturally but strongly, Atkin repositions humanity in relation to the land.  She takes us into a far less familiar and more dangerous place – and it is that ‘feel for what’s not there’, for something beyond ourselves, that elevates this poetry and deepens our experience.”
Stuart B. Campbell, review in Northwords Now Summer 2013

“The first thing to note about her poems is their specificity.  Whether it is the places of her childhood, or the rough seascapes of the northern isles, they are all recreated with precision and a vivid turn of phrase.  Secondly, there is their brevity; this contributes to their memorability.  Thirdly, there is their historical sense: fact and myth are blended into coherent wholes.  There is a real consistency in this collection.
For those who like landscape, weather and a sense of the past, this book comes highly recommended.  And her Roncadora Press pamphlets come in delectable editions which could soon become collectors’ items.”
John Killick, reviewing in The North, No. 50.

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The Crow House_Jean Atkin FRONTcover

The Crow House 
Biscuit Tin Press 2013

Time travel was never this inconvenient – or terrifying…

The Crow House is old.
It has unsafe secrets and doors that aren’t like other doors.

“I read this to my class of 10-11 year olds and they were thoroughly gripped throughout.  The atmosphere is compelling from the outset and there’s a memorably terrifying villain. Highly recommended.”
Amazon review 3.1.13

For more about The Crow House click here.

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The Dark Farms_book1

The Dark Farms
Roncadora Press 2012  
This is a short collection of poetry about the abandoned byres and dark skies of the Galloway Forest.  ‘ Jean Atkin’s beautifully crafted poems evoke the traditions and relics of human work as well as this dramatic, marginal landscape.’

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The Henkeeper’s Almanac
Biscuit Tin Press 2013
This is an artists’ book in collaboration with Pamela Grace.  It contains a poem and a painting for each month of the year.

The notion hatched as poet Jean Atkin prepared to leave twelve years of henkeeping on a smallholding and asked artist Pamela Grace to work with her to record it, in all its weathers and feathers.
Currently out of print
For more about The Henkeeper’s Almanac click here.

'Lost at Sea', Roncadora Press, 2011
‘Lost at Sea’, Roncadora Press, 2011

Lost at Sea
Roncadora Press 2011
Shortlisted for the Callum MacDonald Prize 2011.

… and ‘The Treeless Region’ (Ravenglass Poetry Press 2010), winner of the Ravenglass Poetry Press Competition 2010, judged by John Burnside.

Currently out of print