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Painting The Mersey in 17 Canvases by Maria Isakova Bennett

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The name Mersey comes from boundary: a water border, connecting and separating. Through a series of 17 ‘portraits’, poet and artist Maria Isakova Bennett connects us back to the place rivers hold, following the Mersey from Liverpool city centre to the Irish Sea. The poems are written with a fresh-paint aliveness. Like Alice Oswald’s ​Dart or The Wheel River Sequence you could almost stop and stand in them, walking along with each one, through their weather, tides, their times of day and viewpoints. The boat Maria sometimes works from ​is never at rest / wind from every direction so that, as she comes to know the river more intimately, she reaches the point where ​I lose all sense of me. The river’s characters and traffic feature sanderlings and lovers’ padlocks, tugboats, cargo and docks, as they interweave along the river and estuary to the open sea. Rooted in psychogeography, place and relationship these poems ‘paint’ observe and illuminate ​the permanence and maybe of life on and beside a river full of flow and stillness, solace, surprise and permanence; they return, again and again, to redraw a sense of place and self that, like the river, is ever-changing.



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