Date: 4th April 2016
Extent: 80 pp
In her fourth collection Isobel Dixon takes readers on a journey to far-flung and sometimes dark places in poems that are vivid forays of discovery and resistance, arrival and loss. Bearings sings of love too, and pays homage to lost friends and poets – the voices of John Berryman, Michael Donaghy, Robert Louis Stevenson and others echo here. And there is respite for the weary traveller – jazz in the shadows, an exuberant play of words between the fire and tremors.
As Dixon explores form and subject, conflict and the self, she keeps a weather eye out for telling detail, with a sharp sense of the threat that these journeys, our wars and stories, and our very existence pose to the planet.
Praise for Isobel Dixon
‘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. Cruelty and violence is never dodged, but brought alive in all its rawness and visceral challenge. 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. Much energy, then, is released into being by these poems, whether the poet is drawing on her South African roots in both contemporary and historic settings, or whether her subject is Seville, Cambridge or Dubai. A wide-ranging collection in many senses, venturesome and powerful, remaining in the mind long after reading.’ – Penelope Shuttle
‘Isobel Dixon’s exquisitely written poems teach us how to read the world anew.’ – Gabeba Baderoon
‘Exquisite vigour, panache and a resourceful, ranging intelligence’ – David Morley
‘Unique … innovative … moving and thrilling evocations of individual identity in an uncertain world.’
– Arin Keeble, New Walk
‘Isobel Dixon’s poems confirm her sumptuous gift of mining for melody all the way down to the syllable, but it is remarkable how she can go on tightening her focus even as she widens her range of topic. 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
‘An extraordinary talent. The entirety of this planet – from its animal life to politics, past to present – is found in close-up in her verse.’ – Donald S. Murray, Magma
‘One of the finest South African poets writing today.’ – Kylie Thomas, Mail & Guardian
‘Isobel Dixon’s writing is lit by a fierce sense of landscape…Her poems marry exactitude to emotion. In both, they are memorable.’ – Alison Brackenbury
Isobel Dixon grew up in South Africa, where her debut, Weather Eye, won the Olive Schreiner Prize. She studied in Edinburgh and now lives in Cambridge, returning frequently to her family home in the Great Karoo. Her further collections are A Fold in the Map, Bearings and The Tempest Prognosticator, which J.M. Coetzee described as ‘a virtuoso collection’. Mariscat published her pamphlet The Leonids, and Nine Arches publish A Whistling of Birds in June 2023. She co-wrote and performed in the Titanic centenary show The Debris Field (with Simon Barraclough and Chris McCabe) and has worked with composers, filmmakers and artists. Her work is recorded for the Poetry Archive. www.isobeldixon.com