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Dart [Hardcover]

Alice Oswald
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 May 2010
Over the past three years Alice Oswald has been recording conversations with people who live and work on the River Dart in Devon. 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.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (6 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571259332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571259335
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

One of six wonderful collections published in celebration of Faber's rich poetry heritage.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly atypical 27 Dec 2009
By Sbo
"Dart" is made of one single 48-page long poem. But what poem!

Alice Oswald recorded many conversations she had with those who live and work on or near Dart River (in Devon). She used their voices, dialects, expressions, pleating them into this long multi-faceted text.
The resulting text is a mix of prose poetry rendering carefully selected and adjusted spoken language (the text never sounds as if it was the simple transcription of taped conversations) and quite lyrical poetry in stanzas.
It changes rhythm, tone, is rich in alliterations and plays on sounds. "Dart" refers to local people as well as to characters form the Greco-roman mythology.
The fact the poem goes on over 48 pages gives it a flowing quality, which cleverly suggests a river. Since the Dart is very short, most of the river is affected by the nearby sea's tides, and the mentioned animals, birds and fish can be either fluvial or marine.

Alice Oswald has managed to stitch sections end to end with almost invisible seams. She just changes subjects, makes them flow into each other.
This is a radically atypical piece, a long, creative journey into a world of water and words.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars river song 19 Aug 2010
By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Does the music of language enchant you? How about good quality artwork, or sensitive, tasteful presentation? Yes: then this book is for you. Alice Oswald takes fragments of conversations from those who haunt the river, from its tinkling upper reaches, to the shadowy depths of the mature river. The 'song' is made up of a rich variety of individual viewpoints, whether they be walkers, fishermen or poachers, and they gradually build together into a 'patchwork quilt' of the river, whose own song runs as a steady chorus linking all the pieces together. The human actors are only one small part of the play, for all the wildlife actors, from dragonflies and kingfishers to otters and salmon, make their own contribution. Oswald manages to convey a richly visual picture with relatively sparse and unsensational prose, but the song which bubbles so bewitchingly out of these apparently ordinary ingredients reveals her total mastery of the medium. A deserved prize-winner, and a strongly recommended book to improve the quality of your life: simply open the first page, and let the words and illustrations take you on a trip downriver shot-through with magic.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it, I love it, I love it! 13 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am surprised there are no other reviews for this as it is such a beautiful and inspiring book. I am an artist and it has transformed a new project (now in early stages).

The language is musical and evocative and makes you long to explore some of the places it describes (yes even at five in the morning with the moon shrouded in mist).

The whole book is one long piece, written in such an original and descriptive format, you feel a complete empathy with the river itself. I hear she turned down the post of Poet Laureate, an offer that she well deserved. Total respect!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Somewhat unlike Oswald's other poetry, A Sleepwalk on the Severn excepted, Dart is a poem as long and winding as the river itself. Not quite a poem perhaps, but, in her own words, a "kind of jazz, with various river-workers and river-dwellers composing their own parts." It improvises, much as a river might, newly born and threading its way along the path of least resistance; the reader never quite sure where the poem is going to go next.

We begin with an "Old man seeking and finding a difficulty." A walker at Cranmere Pool, the source of the Dart. Legends haunt the river "I know you,/Jan Coo. A wind on a deep pool." The voices of a chambermaid, a fisherman, a forester, a worker from the Woollen Mills; then John Edmunds washed away in 1840:

I am only as wide
as a word's aperture

is followed by nearly a page of silence that is broken by the shouts and shapes of swimmers, whose arms and legs make letters ... S ... W ... M. Then the water extractor reminds us that "the real work of the river" is done by the "polyelectrolyte and settlementation and twizzling scum". It's left to `a dreamer' to bring romance and nature back to the river:

I saw a sheet of seagulls suddenly
flap and lift with a loud clap and up
into the pain of flying, cry and croup
and crowd the light as if in rivalry
to peck the moon-bone empty

The dairy worker speaks of "processing, separating, blending ... pathogens and spoilage"; the sewage worker's "stink-mass of loopaper" is removed from "a brown lagoon" over which he is "thinking illicit sneaking thoughts".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Poetic Voice of a River 20 Sep 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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, judging by Amazon's numbers, the new (2010) format is moving rather well; very well indeed for a poetry book. It deserves it. Besides those who have enjoyed other poems by Alice Oswald, the market for this book should include all literate residents of and 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 estuary ultimately predominate.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book of poems and prose
This is part poem and part story about the River Dart from source to mouth.

Oswald had interwoven nature, people and history into the short and memorable little book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book for an exquisite poem
It is so good to get such a well crafted piece of writing into a book form which feels and looks so good. Illustration on the front cover is perfect. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Hester Bee
4.0 out of 5 stars seamless flow, shepherded by Proteus
I loved 'Dart', especially for what other reviewers have pointed out as the seamless way Alice Oswald blends "all names, all voices, Slip-Shape" into a "songline from the source to... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Christopher S. Purcell
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it in one sitting
Alice Oswald's second book, Dart, is a 48 page long poem in the voice of the river Dart as it flows from its source to the sea. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good choice for a book club
As a poet myself I enjoyed this book. For a start it's a great idea for a poem, following a river from its source to the sea, and bringing in the people who use the river, or who... Read more
Published 17 months ago by zizzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This is a wonderful book.
I am from Devon and have spent my life growing up around the Dart and this makes my heart ache with those memories. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Lara
4.0 out of 5 stars Great poem enhanced by an interesting cover
Alice Oswald spent a residency at Dartington and based this long poem on research and talking to Dartside folk. She is not sentimental and has a keen eye for nature. Read more
Published on 20 July 2012 by Amjenmary
5.0 out of 5 stars dart
This was a gift which was received with great enthusiasm, it is being enjoyed fully by a gentleman who has strong links, WWII and otherwise, with the River Dart. Very succcessful.
Published on 19 Sep 2011 by Janey
4.0 out of 5 stars Wowza! But...
There's a limited amount you can enjoy a book about South Devon. They have cities down there, abundant public and private services, a sophisticated infrastructure and no... Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2010 by Stuart Weir
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