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Harriet Tarlo


Harriet Tarlo was born in Worcester in 1968. She studied at the University of Durham for several years, receiving her BA in 1989 and her PhD (on the American poet, H.D.) in 1995. Her academic writing focuses on modernist and contemporary poetry with particular interest in linguistic experimentation, gender and landscape/environment. She now teaches English and Creative Writing at the Bretton Hall Campus, University of Leeds. She lives with her partner and two children near Holmfirth, having lived in West Yorkshire since the mid-nineties. She spent most of the previous decade in County Durham, and is also a frequent visitor to the North Cornish coast. Her poetry engages as closely as it can with these places, not in an attempt to represent them, but to embody the sound and rhythm of human relationships with the outside.


Bretton Hall, 2005

This recording was made in August 2005 at Bretton Hall, with the help of Jessica Hodson. It features two sequences, Brancepeth Beck, her first published work, and Nab, her most recent published piece. Both sequences involved the visiting and re-visiting of a place over a fairly lengthy period. These places are Brancepeth Beck, near Brancepeth Village, County Durham and Cheesegate Nab, near Hepworth, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.


  • Nab: Brancepeth Beck, Coast, Nab, Etruscan Books, 2005
  • Poems 1990-2003, Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2004
  • Love/Land, Cambridge: Rem Press, 2003
  • 20 page selection, Foil: defining poetry 1985-2000, ed. Nicholas Johnson, Etruscan Books, 2000
  • BrancepethBeck, The Other Press, 1997
  • Sleight of Foot (with Miles Champion, Helen Kidd and Scott Thurston), Reality Street Editions, 1996

Sample Text


"Harriet Tarlo's 'Brancepeth Beck' … this exquisite poem, written in the objectivist concrete lyric tradition, still possesses a magic freshness." (Tim Allen, Terrible Work)

"I'd rather read Harriet Tarlo's lean, accurate glimpses of this northern world than the latest warblings of the urbane planning department poets -- anyday." (Richard Caddel)

"Harriet Tarlo aims for, and settles upon, the clarity of colour and form, always -- unsettling/intersecting shades -- always in process, -- shivering, disturbed. Voices of this tradition -- Bunting, Niedecker, Thomas A. Clark, whoever -- are made Harriet Tarlo's own in the centring of play within a known, lived, hallowed place." (Wendy Mulford)

"Sign-songs, word-signals, flicker, dissolve and reconstellate their meticulous life-notes.... Always the energy of the poet's hand, shifting the word shapings on the terrain of the page as she walks within the seasons insistences, celebrating the interlinkings between human, as-well-as-human and local/wider open place, and the darkness of the seen, unseen, encroaching threats, violations to a given locality, where every presence/absence imprints a strata changing pulse, a sound, a "lift and fall" of wing and step and eye." (Maggie O'Sullivan)

"For Tarlo, landscape is the other, the not assimilable, what you can't understand. Unlike some innovative poets, she believes in the importance of the experiential, and the landscape affects the words on the page, but not in a predictable way, and she is working against the clichés of the pastoral in poetry. In her work landscape is a place that is known for its human and industrial history, as well as its natural history. The Northern landscape is also 'outside' or marginalized, and like Basil Bunting, she registers place names and dialect words, such as 'nab', in order to assert their existence." (Frances Presley, Poetry London)

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