Monday, 23 August 2010

The Raw Garden by Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore's 1988 collection The Raw Garden claims to "celebrate a familiar world of ladscape and human relationships, but at the same time it leads us to explore and question our own 'sense of the natural'. " (Quote from the back cover blurb).

The book in so far as it deals with issues of genetic manipulation in plant breeding, was ahead of its time. I felt that some poems, for example the poems about Methodist preachers, distracted from the overall flow of the book and there were two versions of one poem, neither of which added to the other. However overall it is an excellent collection. Dunmore clearly has an eye for observation and an awareness of how words work together. In her poem Seal Run for example:

The seals quiver, backstroking
for pure joy of it, down to the tidal
slim mouth of the loch,

they draw their lips back, their blunt whiskers
tingle at the inspout of salt water

then broaching the current they roll
off between islands and circles of seaweed.

Can't you just see those seals? It's a collection that effectively combines lyricism, awareness of nature and issue based commentary and so ticks all the boxes as far as I'm concerned!


Megan Coyle said...

I do feel like I can see those seals - it amazes me what a writer can do with the right words strung together. This is just lovely - thanks for sharing!!

RG said...

Happy seals!

I have never lived for long at a place where nature was not all pervasive. I can hardly imagine what that is like ...

John said...

I can feel their presence and their happy existence. I hope not to imagine them but to continue top see them in our need for conservation.

leavesnbloom said...

such a beautiful way of expressing ones thoughts and observations of nature through the english language.

Caroline Gill said...

Thank you, CGP, once again for another excellent recommendation. I shall look out for it.

I can hardly believe how long ago this was published!