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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. She touches on arguments between polluters and conservationists, poachers and bailiffs, commercial fishermen and seal-watchers.

This could have reached a brilliant high-point in passionate physicality when a capsized canoeist captures the river’s deadly, seductive attention, but the beauty and spontaneity of dance which they aimed for in grappling with one another was not quite achieved. The pre-show event ‘Dart Voices,’ in collaboration with the Oxford Poetry Society and with illuminating talks from director-adaptors Grace Linden and Alice Troy-Donovan, was effective way of building interest to see what theatre can bring to the performance of Dart that a reading of the poem cannot. Any really good poet like Oswald shares some of his qualities—not letting her poems be reduced to easy symbols or rote thematic gestures. Each poem is from the point of view of a different Devonian "character", whether it be a person or a feature of the landscape, all of them revolving around the river.The river's classical past survives in the names of boats ("Oceanides Atlanta Proserpina Minerva"), combining with the accounts of fishermen, boatbuilders and oyster gatherers to freight every passing tide with memory, "a whole millennium going by in the form of a wave". Dart is a wonderful synthesis of disciplines, a living organism, an interdisciplinary course in history, science, geography, myth, and poetry.

Poetry is all about finding those liminal spaces, the cracks inbetween life where magic happens, where insight is gleaned, where transformation occurs. Her third collection, Woods etc , was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the T. This note gives just a glimpse of the complex labor of translation behind this work—one that surpasses the conventional personification of natural forms.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. Other minor technical and balance issues stilted its flow and undermined the value of the otherwise great idea of layering recorded voices and a watery soundscape with the words onstage. The way she uses language and formats the poem also adds to this in an unexpected way – this isn’t set out in one way. Oswald shows that poetry need not choose between Hughesian deep myth and Larkinesque social realism.

Using these records and voices as a sort of poetic census, she creates in Dart a narrative of the river, tracking its life from source to sea. Every beach has its own species, I can read them, volcanic, sedimentary, red sandstones, they all nest in the Dart, but it’s the rock that settles in layers and then flakes and cracks that gives me my flat walling stone.Form shifts with the river’s flow, formal, free verse, prose poem, and with the poem’s various speakers, also a shifting like currents, the landscape, time, and the river’s visitors and users. Oswald read Classics at New College, Oxford, has worked as a gardener at Chelsea Physic Garden, and today lives with her husband, the playwright Peter Oswald (also a trained classicist), and her three children in Devon, in the South-West of England. A Sleepwalk on the Severn appeared in 2009, as did Weeds and Wild Flowers , her collaboration with the artist Jessica Greenman. The substratum of mythic violence is very Hughesian, and like the river of Ted Hughes's 1983 sequence, River, the Dart can "wash itself of all deaths", though after a drowning Oswald follows the dead man's last thoughts with a respectfully blank page ("silence"). The water is my only neighbourhood," Sean O'Brien wrote in Downriver, and there is scarcely a line of Dart that does not squelch with riverine ooze.

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