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Landfill by John Wedgwood Clarke


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If the history of civilisation has been a journey away from our rubbish, John Wedgwood Clarke’s Landfill seeks to reverse that route, taking us behind the chain-link fence of the dump to witness the sublime mess we’ve made of things.

He marvels at the ‘confessions of a people’, at archaeology in the making, with poems about old cookers, fridges, fluorescent tubes and heaps of plastic bottles. Out of their usual locations, these objects become strangely eloquent about the shape of our lives.

Acknowledging that the beautiful view and decluttered house depend on the dump, Clarke responds here with neither cynicism nor sentiment; instead offering a fresh perspective on a vital yet hidden part of our world.

‘Clarke has found rich pickings in the landfill, with line after line worth lingering over for its subtleties. His high-definition observation is informed by an ecologist’s eye, its scientific knowledge lightly worn.’ – Philip Gross

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