Adventures in poetry
Date: 26 July 2018
Extent: 72 pp
BIC Code: DCF
We are delighted to re-issue Isobel Dixon's A Fold in the Map, first published in 2008.
A Fold in the Map charts two very different voyages: a tracing of the dislocations of leaving one’s native country, and a searching exploration of grief at a father’s final painful journey. The first part, ‘Plenty’, deals with family, and a yearning view of home from a new country, with all the ambiguity and doubleness this perspective entails. In the book’s moving second half, ‘Meet My Father’, we encounter events more life-changing than merely moving abroad – a father’s illness and death, the loss of that earlier plenty.
The title A Fold in the Map is a nod to a phrase in Jan Morris’s Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, which describes the traveller’s state of in-betweenness. In these poems of love and longing for home, family, and other loved ones, Isobel Dixon draws on a store of sensuous natural imagery, illuminating the ordinary, often with a touch of wry humour. Her accessible contemporary lyricism will speak memorably to those who have travelled, loved and lost.
‘Fine, warm, sensuous poems which deal boldly with both the light and dark sides of family life and with the many manifestations and resonances of grief.’ – Kate Clanchy
‘Isobel Dixon was born with the gift of lyricism as natural speech. A measure of her accomplishment is that all the sense impressions of Africa, even if the reader has never actually been there, live naturally in her poetry as if it were the only landscape. The vivid surroundings of her childhood got into her rhythms and her phrases. A second, perhaps sadder story, springs from that. She is looking back to something lost, even as she continues to engage in the history of the land where she was born. She has the language for her political situation, too, and for a third story, about her father’s death, she has the language of deep grief – a longing, beyond mere nostalgia, for both a childhood and a homeland.’ – Clive James
‘One of the finest South African poets writing today. Dixon’s remarkable work chronicling her father’s illness and death brings to mind Margaret Atwood’s poems written for her own dying father.’ – Kylie Thomas, Mail & Guardian
Isobel Dixon grew up in South Africa, where her debut collection, Weather Eye, won the Olive Schreiner Prize. She studied in Scotland, works in publishing in London and lives in Cambridge, returning when possible to her family home in the Karoo. Her further collections are A Fold in the Map and The Tempest Prognosticator, which J.M. Coetzee described as ‘a virtuoso collection’. Her work has been recorded for the Poetry Archive and she often collaborates with artists, writers and composers. She took part in the multi-media Hitchcock tribute Psycho Poetica, co-wrote and performed in the Titanic centenary show The Debris Field (with Simon Barraclough and Chris McCabe) and completed two projects with Italian composer Roberto Rusconi – Doppelgänger and Dark Matters, both included in Bearings, published by Nine Arches Press in 2016. In the same year Mariscat published a pamphlet, The Leonids, including poems that will form part of her next Nine Arches collection, The Landing, to be published in April 2022. She is also working on A Whistling of Birds, a poetry-art-music collaboration with Scottish artist Douglas Robertson and American composer Stephen Montague, circling around the nature poetry of D.H Lawrence’s 1923 collection Birds, Beasts and Flowers.
Photograph credit: Jo Kearney