The Stone Age by Jen Hadfield

Jen Hadfield’s 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.

(Picador, 2021)

You can read a short extract from The Stone Age below.

Jen Hadfield lives in Shetland. Her first collection, Almanacs, won an Eric Gregory Award in 2003. Her second collection, Nigh-No-Place, won the T. S. Eliot Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. She won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition in 2012.

Jen Hadfield

Excerpt from The Stone Age

The following poem is published with permission from Jen Hadfield and Picador and should not be downloaded, distributed, or reproduced in any way.


Standing stone, let’s

talk about

You! Who knows

how deep this grief goes

down — in your thick waist

and whalebone skirt —


how deep and wide —

twinkling modestly with

garnet, feldspar —


(faintly) of bruised


Now, we learnt in

school about Deep

Time. Six

o’clock shadow: lichen.


lichen. But humankind

are brief, soft

Read about the full shortlist here.