Following on from her celebrated collection of poems, Swims, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett returns to the waters once more with a new collection of poetry, Of Sea, a sequence of 46 poems, captures the wonder and the world of marine fauna, bringing to life the lives of cockles, rare moths and insects with each verse.
For anyone unfamiliar with Burnett’s style these poems are almost musical, and could be accompanied with music with the greatest of ease, and is indeed exemplified with the Song of the Sea, in which the music is graciously provided by the author. The tone and tempo of these poems, although may be considered ‘nature poetry’ is certainly a style that defies convention, bringing a very welcome breath of fresh air to the genre.
What is especially interesting in Of Sea is Burnett’s embracing her Kenyan heritage to wonderfully combine verse with a selection of Kenyan languages (of which I did have to look up, I did not previously know there were 68 languages in Kenya), for example:
to the welcome in her words, sea’s surge, sands –
ũka thiini ~ come in! The decision
is made before it is known as the waves
This combining not only helps bring a universality to the verses, but also an individualism that highlights the passion within this collection. The themes of these poems are as diverse as the style itself, from the humble cockle to flies and crabs, Of Sea brings to life their world with the beat of every line, from not just their daily habits but also the dangers they face from manmade pollutants such as microplastics.
Of Sea moves with the tides, bringing life to the fauna these poems are written to celebrate.
- Of Sea by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is published by Penned in the Margins (£9.95). To order a copy go to www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk
Founder and Editor of Pilgrim House, currently undertaking a research degree at Bangor University and working on a book on Folklore and early Welsh Christianity. Tom’s other work on music, poetry, health along other writings and images can be found at tomasstanger.com