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Shaler's Fish: Poems

af Helen Macdonald

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384506,033 (3.42)Ingen
Before Helen Macdonald rose to international acclaim with her "beautiful and nearly feral" (New York Times) bestselling memoirH 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 epic--war, history, art, myth, philosophy--and the specific--CNN, Ancient Rome, Auden, Merleau-Ponty--Macdonald 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 herein--from the smallest bird to the loftiest thinker--holds 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.… (mere)

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Shaler's Fish by Helen Macdonald is a collection of poetry from the author H is for Hawk and Falcon. Macdonald is a writer, poet, historian, illustrator and naturalist. She's worked as a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge. She is an affiliate of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.

This is probably the most difficult collection of poetry I have read since Eric Linsker's La Far. There is a definite lyrical quality to the poems. In fact, the reader will get caught up in the flow of words there is a beauty to the words and phrasing but very difficult to create imagery. From "Poem:"

small fowles

rain runs from their back in nomadic immortality holes
for each eye, pygostyle, furcula, pinions oiled & the grease
directs neat beads from throat chat chat hatching barbs
and sills broken white a flint egg.



There is still something that needs to be discovered in this collection. It has the appeal of a song you like and keeps popping into your head, but the words elude you. Eventually, however, everything comes together. I imagine it will take several more reflective reads before it all clicks together. The vocabulary is difficult, but the rhythm created keeps calling the reader back. For those with a taste for interesting and complex poetry, this is a worth read.


( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
Loved H is for Hawk. Went to see Helen MacDonald when she came to town. Bought Shaler's Fish and got it autographed. But, I just didn't get into this. ( )
  PaulGodfread | Sep 23, 2016 |
Loved H is for Hawk. Went to see Helen MacDonald when she came to town. Bought Shaler's Fish and got it autographed. But, I just didn't get into this. ( )
  PaulGodfread | Sep 23, 2016 |
Despite the title, there is no specific mention of Shaler’s fish – which was a real fish – following the introductory quote. The sentiment, however, runs through these poems. That is, studying the subject at hand, be it a fish in a pan or a book on a stand. Agassiz’s lesson is carried out here, in full explorations of natural science and everyday life itself.

“Shaler’s Fish” is halved, first “SAFETY CATCH,” complemented and completed by “SHALER’S FISH.” Even if you know how to read poetry, this collection, under 100 pages, merits repeated visits. Macdonald uses scientific terms in artistic ways. If you read “H is for Hawk” and were hoping for more of her bird observations, you will be pleased. Those are some of the images that stuck out for me.

I wish, when poetry is taught in class, we’d learn more about poetry without specific form(s), let alone rhyming. Poetry, the way I see it, can be anything, and so without such limits, poets are free to express exactly what they need to. That’s good. One technique that did stand out is that almost no words, save a few proper nouns, are capitalized. punctuation is not strictly enforced

Partly due to my scant literacy regarding poetry, I did not know what was going on at first reading. This is no fault of the writer’s: Helen Macdonald is a master wordsmith, and I have to do my work to get to that point. Reading through the lines twice or more led to “I got it!” moments. This is heavy – in a good way. I have to get my literary chops up to snuff. The reward will be a richer experience.

Note: this e-book was provided through Net Galley. For more reviews, follow my blog at http://matt-stats.blogspot.com/ ( )
1 stem MattCembrola | May 5, 2016 |
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Before Helen Macdonald rose to international acclaim with her "beautiful and nearly feral" (New York Times) bestselling memoirH 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 epic--war, history, art, myth, philosophy--and the specific--CNN, Ancient Rome, Auden, Merleau-Ponty--Macdonald 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 herein--from the smallest bird to the loftiest thinker--holds 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.

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