So fragile a thing is memory —
on the dark hill.
~ Poet Clare Holtham
By chance I came across mention of Clare Holtham (1948-2010) and curiosity sent me on a search to learn more about the poet whose first and only published collection, The Road from Herat*, was published in November 2011 by Five Seasons Press. The collection also contains some of her photographs.
To describe Holtham's life as remarkable may not begin to do it justice. Her background — she was an photographer, an explorer, a linguist also — includes abandonment by her mother at age two, homelessness in London, work as a bus conductor, studies in genetics and homeopathy, speaker of self-taught Persian, fluency in systems analysis, and a 24-hour marriage to an Uzbek chieftain in Afghanistan that produced her marvelous short poem "Anointing".
The Five Seasons Press site provided a link to an extract from poet Roger Garfitt's fascinating and highly readable Introduction to The Road from Herat (Garfitt was Holtham's tutor), as well as a link to Research Features at the University of Cambridge, where I found this video about the writer:
The post at Research Features, "For lust of knowing what should not be known", is an insightful and deeply interesting biographical profile of the poet.
Holtham's poem "Pomegranate Seeds" is posted at the Institute of Continuing Education. Her "Anointing" is included in this review at The Guardian. Another of her poems, the very fine "Intercalary Days", is published in Soul Feathers: An Anthology to Aid the Work of MacMillan Cancer Support (Indigo Dreams Publishing, January 2011) at GoogleBooks. Holtham's "White Morning" can be found here and on the Research Features page noted above, and her "The inference of days" appears here._________________________
* Amazon in the U.K. lists the 59-poem collection as out-of-print. Check with the publisher for availability; ordering information is here.