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Dart Paperback – 8 Jul 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (8 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057121410X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571214105
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 0.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'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

Book Description

Dart by Alice Oswald - winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2012 - is a mesmerizing and stunningly original book, a poetic journey along the river Dart, the voice of the river interwoven with the voices of the people who live and work along its course.

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By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Aug. 2010
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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Format: Paperback
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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By Lost John TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Sept. 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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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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