Gillian Clarke (born 8 June 1937) is a Welsh poet and playwright, who also edits, broadcasts, lectures and translates from Welsh into English. She co-founded T? Newydd, a writers' centre in North Wales.
Gillian Clarke was born on 8 June 1937 in Cardiff. She was brought up in Cardiff and Penarth, though for part of the Second World War she was in Pembrokeshire. She lived in Barry for a few years at a house called Flatholme in The Parade. Although her parents were Welsh speakers, she was brought up to speak only English and learnt to speak Welsh as an adult - partly as a form of rebellion. She graduated in English from Cardiff University.
After university Clarke spent a year working for the BBC in London. She then returned to Cardiff, where she gave birth to her daughter, Catrin, and two sons. About Catrin she wrote a poem under her name. Clarke worked as an English teacher, first at the Reardon-Smith Nautical College and later at Newport College of Art.
In the mid-1980s she moved to rural Ceredigion, West Wales, with her second husband, after which she spent some years teaching creative writing at the University of Glamorgan. In 1990 she was a co-founder of T? Newydd, a writers' centre in North Wales.
Her poetry is studied by GCSE and A Level students throughout the United Kingdom. A considerable number of her poems are used in the GCSE AQA Anthology. She has given poetry readings and lectures in Europe and the United States; her work has been translated into ten languages. Some of her English poems were translated into Chinese by Peter Jingcheng Xu and published in the journal Foreign Literature and Art (Issue 6, December 2016).
Clarke has published numerous collections of poetry for adults and children (see below), as well as dramatic commissions and numerous articles in a wide range of publications. She is a former editor of The Anglo-Welsh Review (1975-84) and the current president of T? Newydd. Several of her books have received a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. In 1999 Gillian Clarke received the Glynd?r Award for an "Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales" during the Machynlleth Festival. She was on the judging panel for the 2008 Manchester Poetry Prize. Clarke reads her poetry for teenagers who are taking their English GCSE school exams. She is part of the GCSE Poetry Live team that also includes John Agard, Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Imtiaz Dharker, Moniza Alvi, Grace Nichols, Daljit Nagra and Choman Hardi.
In 2008, Gillian Clarke became the third National Poet of Wales. She held the post until 2016, when she was succeeded by Ifor ap Glyn. In 2010 she was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and became the second Welsh person to receive the honour.