Falling Awake: Poems (Paperback)
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Winner of the Costa Poetry Award • Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Award and the Forward Prize
“These lyrics…illustrate poetry’s unique ability to shock readers into a renewed awareness of the world.” —Washington Post
Falling Awake, winner of the Costa Award for Poetry, “give[s] us the sensation of living alongside the natural world, of being a spectator to the changes that mark our mortality” (Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker). Falling Awake expands on the imagery of fallen soldiers from Homer’s Iliad portrayed in her previous volume, Memorial—defining life as a slowly falling weight, where beings fight against their inevitable end. Oswald reimagines classical figures such as Orpheus and Tithonus alive in an English landscape together with shadows, flies, villagers, dew, crickets—all characterized in tension between the weight of death and their own willpower.
let me shuffle forward
and tell you the two minute life of rain
starting right now
lips open and lidless cold all-seeing gaze
About the Author
Alice Oswald is the author of eight books of poetry, including Memorial and Falling Awake, winner of the Costa Poetry Award and Griffin Poetry Prize. Elected as the University of Oxford Professor of Poetry in 2019, she lives in Bristol, United Kingdom.
[Oswald] writes a poetry of the natural world saturated with myth. A long poem about the dawn, ‘Tithonus,’ may be the most beautiful work I read all year.
— Dan Chiasson - The New Yorker
After having exhausted language once, Oswald has returned to exhaust it again, her own voice speaking over the corpses of the world’s ever-present erosion…and challenging herself and her readers to conceptualize what new shape can come when the last reiterated ‘whip of sparks’ in the world and its many spheres has ‘gone,’ and then gone again.
— Los Angeles Review of Books
[These] poems have a distinctive clarity of phrase, line, and shape, as if they came out of a trance of waking attention.
— Boston Review
Alice Oswald’s poems are vivid and distinct, alert and deeply, physically engaged in the natural world.
— Poetry Daily
Alice Oswald pulls off a feat in her seventh collection: she finds words for encounters with nature that ordinarily defy language.… [Falling Awake] is an astonishing book of beauty, intensity and poise—a revelation.
[Falling Awake] does not disappoint.… Fierce in the quality of her attention, often metaphorically dazzling, Oswald earns our trust through her authority.
[A] modern classic.
— Sunday Times
A liminal text.… Unmistakably original.
— Times Literary Supplement
Stunning.… If there’s any justice in the poetry world, the title [Poet Laureate] should be offered to this gardener-classicist who is bringing the British landscape to life in poetry again.
— Daily Telegraph
You won’t experience the full effect of Alice Oswald’s poetry unless you read her words aloud—she writes with a mind for sounds, syllables, and the patters of speech, informed and inspired by oral storytelling traditions.