Elizabeth Bishop’s hawkweed, John Berryman’s hummingbirds, Ted Hughes’s burnt fox – the birds, beasts and flowers of Isobel Dixon’s new collection are at times kin to D.H. Lawrence, whose essay ‘Whistling of Birds’ lends this book its name, though each poem here is its own vivid testament to the natural world, and our often troubled and troubling place in it.
Lyrical, vigorous, inventive, A Whistling of Birds is at times in conversation with Lawrence’s iconic collection, Birds, Beasts and Flowers, but also ranges widely through the worlds of other writers and makers – from the Venerable Bede to Emily Dickinson, Georgia O’Keeffe to Glenn Gould, and a wealth of other connections closely examined and delicately drawn. An abundance of apricots in Santa Fe; bats, bees, tortoises, snakes, the generous body of a whale. Threaded throughout is the beautiful complexity and vulnerability of the planet, and the joy and difficulty of making art.
Douglas Robertson’s finely detailed images also speak of a close connection to the green world, ocean and sky, and a thoughtful dialogue between artist and poet. With its resonant elegies and notes of celebration, this is a collection that flexes, hums and brims with energy, yet surely draws you in to its quiet, reflective heart.
Praise for Isobel Dixon's writing:
‘A poet confident in her mastery of her medium.’ – J.M. Coetzee
‘Here is a poet at ease with a variety of forms and approaches, and possessing the confidence to address experiment in her work. Her voice is questioning and searching; she presents the vitality of the natural world with strong lyricism and close observation. … There’s also much wit and the poems often sparkle with colour, and are feisty, full of rich doubt, and complex considerations of world and self.' – Penelope Shuttle
‘She is a poet who, far from hiding in lyricism, uses it for adventure and exploration, like a magician's cloak. Her work is a perpetual transformation, inexhaustible even though anything in it can be said aloud, and indeed demands to be. There is something new under the sun on every page.’ – Clive James
Nine Arches Press