This is a substantial collection of poems consisting of several sections that work together around recurring motifs. At its centre is the innovative long poem, ‘Clay’, based on The Epic of Gilgamesh. ‘On the Farm’, comprises a number of poems employing an affective and conversatonal voice; whilst ‘Through Time’ focusses on landscape, particuliarly from a geological perspective, and the final section, ‘Migrations’ adds a set of lyrical poems which bring together the themes of life and death, transcience and a sense of an eternal present, memory and the process of matter ‘becoming thought’. At the heart of all this ‘Clay’ layers the Gilgamesh epic with the experience of the scribe who transcribed it and the present experience of the poet.
Following her earlier major long poems, ‘Vaughan Variations’, and Batu-Angas, Cluysenaar has found, in her response to the Epic of Gilgamesh, a new source for continuing her profoundly serious meditations on nature and the making of human life in time. It is a book firmly rooted in a Welsh place and Welsh landscapes, but with a sense of connections far across space and time. Migrations on the whole is a sustained yet various collection of poems, at once movingly personal and philosophical, by one of our most thought-provoking and accomplished poets. - Jeremy Hooker