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Book Dart by Alice Oswald (2002-07-08)


Dart by Alice Oswald (2002-07-08)

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    Alice Oswald(Author)

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  • PDF | Unknown pages
  • Alice Oswald(Author)
  • Faber & Faber (1791)
  • Unknown
  • 7
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Review Text

  • By Lost John on November 27, 2011

    I live within a few miles of the Dart, the river that gives its name to Dartmoor, Dartington and Dartmouth, yet to discover Alice Oswald's poetic celebration of this watercourse from source to estuary I had to read the transcript, published in The Hudson Review, of a radio talk by Andrew Motion. The poem won the 2002 T S Eliot Prize shortly after first publication, but otherwise seems to have got off to an unpretentious start in terms of publicity and sales. However, the new (2010) format appears to have got it moving rather better, which can only be a good thing. Besides those who have enjoyed other poems by Alice Oswald, the market for this book should include all literate visitors to Dartmoor and South Devon, those who enjoy the poetry of Ted Hughes (Hughes lived not many miles north and east of the source of the Dart), and the many schools that use Hughes to stimulate imaginative classroom work.This volume consists of a single poem of alternating verse and prose, and at one point a 25 line silence. Through the voices of a succession of people who live, work, or take recreation on, in or in proximity to the river - even drown in it - plus the voice of the river itself, we follow its 45 mile progress from moor to sea. Some of the less expected points of call are a small hotel, a woollen mill, a milk factory and a sewage works. All are memorable in their way, and we learn much from the voices encountered there, but the open moorland, the steeply descending section of the river inaccessible even to walkers, and the nominally faceless, but deep and timeless expanses of the river estuary ultimately predominate. Besides the river itself, a unifying factor from sea almost to source is provided by the annually migrating salmon, attracting legal and illegal fishing, and providing work for the fisheries warden, a figure who speaks well for himself, but is not well-regarded by the poachers Alice Oswald also coaxes into speaking frankly.Oswald's two years of fieldwork researching the river and interviewing subjects was clearly well spent, and the poem will in turn provide many diverting hours of research for those who wish to fully understand every line. If, on first encounter, you know what a Kevick is, you already know South Devon rather well. As a help to the uninitiated, it's a pupil or former pupil of the King Edward VI School (now Community College) in Totnes. Talcom (powder) and the Sillies (Isles off SW England) are presumably just mis-prints. Oakenhampton may be a correctly recorded mispronunciation of Okehampton.

  • By JeanfromOttawa on February 26, 2017

    Just finished this marvel of a book and feel as if I have visited the Dart. Loved the way the different voices told their tales, the way Oswald shifted the work's form to suit the different voices, the different feel of various parts of the river. Beautiful.

  • By C. Derick Varn on June 5, 2017

    Alice Oswald's Dart is a fascinating 48-page single poem that acts as both a extended "found poem" blending the voices of the people around the River Dart in Devon, England. Pulled from her interviews, the voices are woven together in verse without clear delineation, and thus the poem also functions as a oral history of the River but it is also filled with mythic references and a deeper poetic dimension. It's a captivating work.

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