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This review is from: Memorial (Hardcover)
Memorial elevates Alice Oswald to the position of England's premier poet in my view, building on her superb earlier books. This work is both moving and relevant. Decribed as an "excavation" of Homer's "The Iliad" it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone poem in its own right. A dramatic and serious tone is set from the beginning, with the first few pages listing the names of the war dead: each soldier's name being given the respect and gravity of an individual line. Astonishing writing follows, full of powerful simile and metaphor that made me gasp out loud at times. Oswald is one of only a few modern poets to truly be influenced by Ted Hughes, but it should be stressed she has a distinctive, original, voice of her own. In addition to this her ideas, projects and way of working seem quite unique. She talked in a reading I once saw her give of being interested in oral narratives being passed on through the ages, not only classical but from various cultures around the world, and this interest has reached fruition in this work. The fact it has been written at a time when the poet's own country is deeply involved in war adds to its poignancy.