Synopses & Reviews
Before Helen Macdonald chronicled the experience of adopting a goshawk in her bestselling book H Is for Hawk
, she was a poet. With a masterful ear for musical phrasing as well as an utterly unique way of seeing the earth around her, she writes deft, daring verse; her language is melodic and opulent while her observations are shrewd and incisive. From "the new world":
What is a hand for, but to be held? It is raining
in Georgia it is raining all over the world [. . .]
every moment describes some other music
and I cannot remember banality ever existing.
These poems are lush, lyrical and vibrantly evocative, parsing images from the landscape and then turning inward to consider the human consciousness that witnesses, processes, and manipulates the landscape. From an outstanding literary innovator, Shalers Fish is a joyous celebration of the natural world and a profound meditation on being alive in it.
Macdonald a British historian naturalist and illustrator made waves with her memoir H Is for Hawk but in her debut collection of poetry she goes beyond simply observing the natural world displaying the indefatigable curiosity that motivated the early naturalists who inspire her. Macdonald employs her knowledge of the natural sciences as she deftly works scientific discoveries into poems on such subjects as love politics solitude death and more. Her imagery encompasses biology geology physics weather patterns and astronomy. For example in “Hyperion to a Satellite” she invokes Widmanstätten patterns found in meteorites: “Widmanstätten’s grating pat with a formula/ of primitive and suitably drenched olivine. Noble metals// are dropped onto accident blackspots hailing/ from districts of open light glossing the connectives// with a discriminating solar bombardment.” The rich and heady language calls to mind the tradition of the English Romantic poets while offering wholly new and original constructions: “the shade of your eyes approximates the blade’s blued dorsal edge/ indigent as the model’s side or even air seen from below// every moment describes some other music/ and I cannot remember banality ever existing.” Devoted readers of H Is for Hawk will find Macdonald’s gift for stunning language patient curiosity and expansive wisdom on full display in her poems. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
Before Helen Macdonald rose to international acclaim with her "beautiful and nearly feral" (New York Times) bestselling memoir H Is for Hawk, she wrote a collection of poetry, Shaler's Fish.
In robust, lyrical verse, Shaler's Fish roams both the outer and inner landscapes of the poet's universe, seamlessly fusing reflections on language, science, and literature, with the loamy environments of the natural worlds around her. Moving between the epicwar, history, art, myth, philosophyand the specificCNN, Ancient Rome, Auden, Merleau-PontyMacdonald examines with humor and intellect what it means to be awake and watchful in the world. These are poems that probe and question, within whose nimble ecosystems we are as likely to encounter Schubert as we are "a hand of violets," Isaac Newton as a "winged quail on turf." Nothing escapes Macdonald's eye and every creature hereinfrom the smallest bird to the loftiest thinkerholds a significant place in her poems.
This is an unparalleled collection from one of greatest nature writers, and a poet of dazzling music and vision."
About the Author
Helen Macdonald is the author of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling book H Is for Hawk. She is a writer, poet, illustrator, historian, and naturalist who lives in Cambridge, England. Twitter: @HelenJMacdonald