Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Tuesday 22 February 2005

"Dart" by Alice Oswald (Faber and Faber, 2002)

9 pounds for 48 pages of almost unbroken poetry and prose. It's been compared to "The Waste Land", "Under Milk Wood", "The Waves", etc. The source material was what people near the river Dart said, though "all voices should be read as the river's mutterings". There are some one-word-a-line sections and even passages of rhyme: couplets like

while an old dandelion unpicks her shawl
and one by one the small spent oak flowers fall

sound too OgdenNashy in their tricksiness, and stanzas like

and row as far as Totnes
and there get out and stand,
outcasts of the earth, kings
of the green island England.

are a bit of a mouthful. I like best the more documentary parts, where à la Studs Terkel stonewallers and ferrymen seem to present themselves. There are patches of good poetry too (the last page for example) and good images ("two worlds, like two foxes in a wood").

I like the idea of having margin notes. They serve partly as foot-notes and partly to indicate a change of persona.

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