Jenna Clake’s Museum of Ice Cream is part simulation, part internal monologue, part attempt to reach out. An uncanny examination of objects, scenes and flavours, these poems explore how food can connect and divide, can feel isolating and terrifying; also touching on television, childhood films and social media accounts, the collection investigates how to reveal and conceal, what it means to have a secret, to be intimate, to navigate something that should be natural, but feels sickly, sour, and wrong.


Immersive experience of all the things I want
(that are bad for me)

On the perfect TV date, we go to the fun fair, eat candy floss
as light as a tutu skirt. My teeth are still white
and smooth like a bathtub. We play mini golf –
I lose – and we get burgers; none of the lettuce
falls out, our fries are perfectly straight.

Or we go to an art gallery with interactive,
walk-through exhibitions, and I hit my head
on entering one. When I tell my sister,
she says, he must really like you, then, having
seen you do that, and so I don’t mention
that I didn’t say that I was starving the whole time.


How much longer until I get this out?

You are eating fig rolls
because your mother thinks
you like them, as she does,
and she wraps them in paper
napkins like slices of cake;
you found the fig rolls
in the pocket of your bag,
and you want her to keep on
buying them so you are never
able to tell the truth,
so that you eat them until
they remind you of her
and you have grown
to like them like you taught
a boyfriend to like olives and
then to like mushrooms,
as though this were improving
him as a person, but really
he was lactose intolerant,
as was the other woman he was fucking.


I hid fish in my pockets and forgot about it for days

After Jane Wong

Anything that is not a vegetable is evil.
When we eat, our souls become heavier, like wet flour.
I splatter tomato juice up the tiles on purpose; I am dangerous.
Ceremony is another word for obsession.
I am honest enough to realise that.
To see success, look at the glassiness of eyes in photographs.
To see failure, well, you know what to do.
How terrible to feel locked out of life, to not know the secret.
My mother calls to tell me the bad news she has been hiding.
She taps the phone anxiously; you suffer so much already.
Remember: you’re not as good at hiding things as you think you are.

© Jenna Clake, 2021, used by permission of RCW Literary Agency


Jenna Clake was born in Staffordshire in 1992. Her debut collection of poetry, Fortune Cookie, won the Melita Hume Prize in 2016, and was published in 2017 by Eyewear. It received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2018, and was shortlisted for a Somerset Maugham Award in the same year. Her pamphlet of prose poems, CLAKE/Interview for, was published by Verve Poetry Press in 2018, and was featured as a spring pamphlet in the Poetry Book Society Bulletin in 2019. She was shortlisted for the inaugural Rebecca Swift Women Poets’ Prize, commended in the University of Hertfordshire Single Poem Prize, and placed second in the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2018. She lectures at Teesside University. Museum of Ice Cream, her second full collection, is published by Bloodaxe Books.
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Author portrait © Lauren Birch