cover image Spacecraft Voyager 1: New and Selected Poems

Spacecraft Voyager 1: New and Selected Poems

Alice Oswald, . . Graywolf, $15 (145pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-482-4

Equal parts eco-conscious reportage, childlike whimsy and intellectual exploration, this U.S. debut from an award-winning British poet will test how far the appeal of her language extends. Oswald's 1990s triumphs were her sonnets, devoted either to the seaside or to romantic love; the poems' naïve tones belied their serious invention: “The sea is made of ponds—a cairn of rain/ It has an island flirting up and down/ like a blue hat.” Her genre-defying long poem Dart , also included here, records sights and sounds collected on walks down the length of the river Dart, which flows through England's Southwest—“the soundmarks of larks,” “corn-blue dinghies,” a Royal Navy trainee who told Oswald he had “serious equipment in his head.” Oswald followed up with diverse short poems, some resembling nursery rhymes, others in the voices of woods, frogs, sheep, and others still in more abstract, speculative modes: “there lay the world,” she recalls in “Field,” “wedged/ between its premise and its conclusion.” While some Americans may not know what to make of this poet so closely tied to the English pastoral tradition, the scope of her imagination and the oddity of her talent should repay close listening, and this collection offers American readers their first view of Oswald's compelling career so far.. (Nov.)