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The Mara Crossing Hardcover – 5 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701185554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701185558
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ruth Padel is an award-winning British poet and author, who works in a wide range of fields: poetry, poetry criticism, wildlife and conservation, and also music. The Mara Crossing, her latest book of poems plus short prose pieces, on animal and human migration and immigration, was shortlisted for the 2012 Ted Hughes Award. Her poetry collection Darwin - A Life in Poems is a verse biography of her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin.

Her next collection, Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth, will come out in 2014. At its centre will be a series of poems on the Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross.

Since she is descended from Darwin, Ruth is passionate about wildlife conservation. She sits on the Council of the Zoological Society of London and for her prose book on wild tigers, Tigers in Red Weather, she spent years travelling through the threatened tiger forests of Asia with foresters and field zoologists, whose lives she wrote more about in her novel Where the Serpent Lives, which also features the tragic consequences of wildlife crime in both India and Britain. In summer 2013 she curated an innovative series of Writers Talks in London Zoo to highlight its conservation work, featuring leading writers and conservation scientists and a series of endangered animals.

Ruth is known as an inspiring teacher and reader: she pioneered POETRY WORKSHOP, BBC Radio 4, working with local poetry groups across the UK and has written much-loved books on reading poetry, such as 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem and The Poem and the Journey. She teaches Poetry in the Creative Writing School of King College London.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and started out as a scholar of ancient Greek. Her other passions are music, especially singing, Greece today,India, history and science. See www.ruthpadel.com: follow her on Twitter @ruthpadel.

Product Description

Review

"A vertiginous compendium, a prodigy, a book of wonders: it is Montaigne’s and Darwin’s 21st-century child" (Independent)

"A broad-ranging meditation on all things migratory...This is a book of raw interfaces and unnerving encounters. Magnificent poems... a triumph of imagistic ingenuity" (Guardian)

"(A) thoughtful and often quite magical mix of prose and poetry…What is just as fascinating as Padel’s central theme is the insight that she also gives us into poetry, or rather, into the creation of a poem." (Lesley McDowell Independent on Sunday)

"The Mara Crossing is a major meditation on migration. The prose is crystalline, the poems full of the wonderful material stuff of life. It's a poet's book to the core, a passionate exploration of her subject, proving that pressures on cells, bodies, creatures (human and other), and on the planet itself, are fit and essential matter for poetry" (Jo Shapcott)

"A glorious fabric, weaving lyricism and hard facts, poetic insight and scientific detail unwinding from the multitudinous threads of geographical migration. A beautiful, far-ranging book about physical journeys and all they might mean to humans and animals alike" (Mark Cocker)

Book Description

In ninety richly varied poems and illuminating prose interludes, Ruth Padel's original new book weaves science, myth, wild nature and human history to conjure a world created and sustained by migration.

Customer Reviews

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By BioDiplomacy on 14 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Mara Crossing is where the wildebeest reach the last stage of their migration from Kenya to Tanzania, the dangerous mass swim across the Mara river. This becomes a central image for this "major meditation on migration" (Jo Shapcott) . I can't think what to call the genre that houses this unusual mixture of prose - often poetic - and poems which often pluck words from biological texts:

... Protozoa, copepods
and krill, a ragtag army
preyed on by larger predators still -
the bioluminescence brigade:
lantern-fish glowing cold
catoptromantic rays,
three hundred species
of dense packed cephalopods;
and hatchet-fish
following their own fixed upward gaze.
(from "Nocturne", alliteration and rhythm helping fit the words for their new home.)

At times the structure has similarities with a post-Wagnerian opera, rich arias and recitative, plotless (like Glass's "Satyagraha") but with compulsive leitmotifs. The prose passages are built on inductive logic rather than tightly argued syllogisms. They are the bright pickings that sparkle in a jackdaw's nest, the fruits of such extensive reading that one almost feels there should be a bibliography. The Haitian-born Audubon's first banding of birds in America throws the mist net of migration over birds and humans; and Lowenstein, another migrant, discovers as late as 1961 that living organisms contain the mineral magnetite in their bodies, allowing some to use Earth's magnetic field to guide their movements.

The overall theme is that "Home and migration belong together, two sides of the same ancient coin. Home is something we make, then things change, either in ourselves or in the world, we lose home and have to go elsewhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 29 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can't put this down. Ruth Padel writes what starts as a personal journal, looking out onto her beloved garden and observing the birds. She then takes you on an extraordinary journey as if you were migrating with the birds, explaining in detail the reasons, biological, practical and genetic, for their behaviour; all in accessible fascinating language. It does not end there - she considers the very nature of animal migration (including human) and how this has determined the world in which we live. Ruth Padel is a renowned poet, a master, and the added joy of this book is in the poems which are interwoven with the prose. A group of poems follows on from the text in such a way that you have an additional understanding of the poems, which refer to what she has so lucidly described about migration.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rachael on 28 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had to restrain myself from reading too much in one go, so I could digest each chapter and make the experience last longer. It is indeed a flowing, fact filled meditation on so many aspects of migration from cells to insects, birds, marine and land animals, as well as people. One tiny example I hadn't known, is of the daily vertical migration of jellyfish from the deep ocean to the surface. It spans ancient to contemporary history including stark tales of today's immigration issues and the treatment of those seeking a 'better life'. It describes the many reasons for migration as well as the means. How Ruth Padel does this in such concise yet eloquent language makes it a masterpiece. Her knowledge of biology, and the different examples she uses could fill a dissertation. I learned so much and my imagination took flight. I found her prose as lyrical as her poetry. Each chapter ends with several poems on the theme of that chapter. Her final poem 'Time to Fly' is a moving summary of the drive to migrate. I have now bought several copies to give as gifts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A must have, the book is brilliantly written. I thought it would only be poems, but each chapter is explained very well and then the poems follow. I LOVE IT. I haven't enjoyed poetry this much in a long time.
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Great poetry and meditative book though I was disappointed there was not more artwork as I picked it off a website to this purpose.
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