Oswald's simply titled 3rd collection is a slim volume of luminous poetry.
The collection itself draws on Oswald's strong connections to nature, and includes many poems that echo the songs of the woods, of owls, of the moon, of stones and rainbows. There are other poems too, slightly more philosophical in content, such as the rich and sweeping "Various Portents"; a Christmas poem filled with ancient wonder and modern light:
Many visions, many digitally enhanced heavens,
All kinds of glistenings being gathered into telescopes:
Fireworks, gasworks, white-streaked works of Dusk,
Works of wonder and or water, snowflakes, stars of frost ...
Elsewhere, her poetry juxtaposes the natural and the synthetic to glorious effect, words that you hear rather than read (from Owl):
an owl elsewhere swelled and questioned
twice, like you might lean and strike
two matches in the wind.
Sometimes I think I can hear Ted Hughes in the distance, not borrowed from, but almost pre-supposed. In his well-known poem, The Horses, the world appears to the light of the sun as: "Slowly detail leafed from the darkness." It seems Oswald's "Woods Not Yet Out" are behind it all:
the rain, thinking I've gone, crackles the air
and calls by name the leaves that aren't yet there
Oswald's poetry is intelligent and fresh. If there is any hope in this world for poetry, then surely here is one of the poets who carries it. Oswald is a poet of such sensitive intensity and quiet skill, that every subject she touches upon is made finer by her words.
Readers looking for poetry with delicacy, confidence and individual flair; poetry that echoes nature, and poetry that is distinctly contemporary in craft, will find this book a treasure.
[FYI: This book was awarded the 2006 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.]