Yasmine Seale

Everything in Flux

Falling Awake


Cape Poetry 81pp £10 order from our bookshop

Alice Oswald’s second volume, Dart (2002), is a long liquid poem made of voices. Some were drawn from the people who live and work on the river of that name, whom Oswald spent three years recording. Their babble mingles with other voices, mythic and actual, some asleep, some drowned. It is ‘water’s soliloquy’. The sailmaker and the sealwatcher have their say, so too do stones and salmon, but all voices ‘should be read as the river’s mutterings’.

That poetry might borrow its shape from water is an idea pursued in Oswald’s new collection. The guiding theme is flux, which is both a fact and a kind of vanishing act: ‘my voice being water/which holds me together and also carries me away’. The poems vary in form, slip-shape (to borrow her term), unwilling to settle, as though performing the mutability they describe, like water which is only ever partly itself. Readers of Dart and Memorial may miss the majestic coherence of their book-length poems, but a collection must be judged on its own looser terms. The pieces included here are held together by Oswald’s luminous, almost alien powers of observation. Their subject is that curious category, the natural world, the name we give to all that isn’t human.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,
    • 'In different ways Hatherley makes gritty Lódź and poor old which-country-are-we-in-this-week Lviv sound entrancing… ,
    • In this issue Lucy Popescu discusses the miscarriages of justice occurring in the investigation over Maltese journa… ,
    • 'Rodin’s fascination with ancient Greek sculpture is part of a long and distinguished French tradition.' A review o… ,
    • The New Testament, in a new translation by David Bentley Hart, reviewed by Salley Vickers ,