The Stone Age
Winner of the 2021 Highland Book Prize
Jen Hadfield’s new collection is an astonished beholding of the wild landscape of her Shetland home, a tale of hard-won speech, and the balm of the silence it rides upon. The Stone Age builds steadily to a powerful and visionary panpsychism: in Hadfield’s telling, everything – gate and wall, flower and rain, shore and sea, the standing stones whose presences charge the land – has a living consciousness, one which can be engaged with as a personal encounter.
The Stone Age is a timely reminder that our neurodiversity is a gift: we do not all see the world the world in the same way, and Hadfield’s lyric line and unashamedly high-stakes wordplay provide nothing less than a portal into a different kind of being. The Stone Age is the work of a singular artist at the height of her powers – one which dramatically extends and enriches the range of our shared experience.
There is something magical and incantatory in the way she cherished language at the level of the name, as if utterance itself might be a way of dwelling in the real and making oneself at home there.
Shetland-based Jen Hadfield provides a vivid portrait of the landscape of her home, while also showing how neurodiversity can lead to new slants, insights and metaphors when viewing the world. . . What’s most captivating is how Hadfield brings sensations to life; subtle and propulsive, her language fizzes and dashes “in little surges like rills of clear pleasure”
THE STONE AGE transports us to the bleakly beautiful landscape of Shetland, where she lives. Hers is an uncompromising eye which sees Soul in everything. . . Strange and challenging, these poems demand as much attention as the poet gives her world.