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 it is very difficult to create imagery. From “Poem:”
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.
3 responses to “Book Review — Shaler’s Fish”
Her book Hawk was interesting but hard to get through.
She seems to be writing on a different plane. Brilliant, but difficult to understand.
Yes, that’s it! (I admit I didn’t finish Hawk).