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Dart by Alice Oswald
  

Dart

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Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin.

Alice Oswald’s poem Dart was awarded the T. S. Eliot prize in 2002. It is an account of the River Dart in Devon told through the voices of those that have lived and worked around it - but as Oswald writes ‘All voices should be read as the river’s mutterings’. Each of the characters’ narrative delicately flows from one to the other; from chambermaids to naturalists, walkers to waternymphs. The River Dart itself takes on a life of its own, personified by each individual’s hobby, history or life, and is deeply embedded within mysticism and myth. The poem offers reflections upon human temperament; whether it is melancholic, competitive, or overwhelming trepidation. After two years of interviews, Oswald finely extracts poetry from the voices of the river, detailing the ‘swift fragmentary happenings’ of the River Dart. The poem is a groundbreaking piece of work, and is indeed the ‘anonymous, water’s soliloquy’.

Synopsis

Dart by Alice Oswald

Using these records and voices as a sort of poetic census, she creates a narrative of the river, tracking its life from source to sea. The voices are wonderfully varied and idiomatic - they include a poacher, a ferryman, a sewage worker and milk worker, a forester, swimmers and canoeists - and are interlinked with historic and mythic voices, drowned voices, dreaming voices and marginal notes which act as markers along the way.

Reviews

'The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile seductively commands delighted attention. In an age where nature poetry and spirituality are unfashionable, it is always exciting when someone does the job with panache and without being boring.'
Guardian

About the Author

Alice Oswald

Alice Oswald lives in Devon and is married with three children. Her collections include Dart, which won the 2002 T S Eliot Prize, Woods etc. (Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize), A Sleepwalk on the Severn (Hawthornden Prize), Weeds and Wildflowers (Ted Hughes Award) and, most recently, Memorial, which won the 2013 Warwick Prize for Writing. ‘Dunt’, included in this collection, was awarded the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

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Book Info

Publication date

8th July 2002

Author

Alice Oswald

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Publisher

Faber & Faber

Format

Paperback
64 pages

Categories

Poetry
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ISBN

9780571214105

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