Saturday 29 February 2020

For 2020, the StAnza Blog is hosting DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – who as reviewers in virtual residence on the StAnza Blog will post excerpts from their selection of reviews of titles by poets on the StAnza 2020 programme, including this one in today’s blog. The full review can be read on their website at  https://dura-dundee.org.uk/category/poets-stanza-2019-reviews/. Written by staff and students, DURA is keen to promote the diversity of artists and art forms in the UK context, supporting especially (albeit non-exclusively) independent cinema outlets, exhibitions, theatre, film and publishing. 

Zoë Skoulding, Footnotes to Water, reviewed by Thomasin Collins

Already a much published and praised poet, Footnotes to Water is Zoë Skoulding’s most recent work. This collection has rivers at its heart: the Adda in Bangor, Wales, where she works as a critic and translator, and the Bièvre in Paris. The mystery behind these hidden rivers bursts forth as language and as a symbol of buried heritage.

The collection is divided into three sections: the first, ‘Footnotes to Water’, has poems that delve into the rural and urban Adda, and its coastal connections. The second, ‘Heft’, explores sheep farming, and the third, ‘Teint’ is a previously published collection of poems about a concealed Parisian river. In ‘Teint’ and ‘Heft’ a distinct step-down form is used which creates cohesiveness between the two sections despite the subject matter. In ‘Footnotes to Water’ the forms differ; some prose poetry appears amongst more traditional stanzaic forms....

Skoulding’s poems span time and space, giving a depth and complexity that unnerve the senses. Her themes have a rare range, not simply providing a dark view on human greed and destruction but also celebrating cultures and landscapes, lightening the pessimism. Wales infuses her work, an infectious enthusiasm for the country’s heritage and passion for languages. The translator’s ability to bridge cultures makes Footnotes to Water an exceptional collection.