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06 | 16 : Isobel Dixon


I’ve just been putting together a tasty wee poetry reading for 16 August. It will be at at the Fruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh and will feature Rob A Mackenzie, Isobel Dixon, Simon Barraclough, Helen Ivory, Helen Mort and myself. I’m really excited to be reading alongside such cracking poets in such a wonderful venue at the height of Auld Reekie’s most festivalest of seasons. Here are the details:

  • Where: Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.
  • When: Tuesday 16 August, 7:30 pm for 8 pm.
  • How much: £3.00

Photo by Jo Kearney

To whet your appetite, I’ll be posting poems from each of the readers in the weeks between now and the event. Here’s the first, from Isobel Dixon, on a culinary theme as befits the opening appetiser:

Root Verses

Something fantastical is happening
to our weekly vegetables.
A deep organic mystery.
Take this peculiar Buddha root,
these conjoined tubers,
apostolic, luminous.

At first it was our ignorance
that had us both agape
at sprouting aliens, but Google,
Wikipedia, my fat Larousse,
enlightened us. See, here,
celeriac, kumquat, jackfruit,

chard, tamarillo, salsify –
we learned to welcome strangers
to our house. The whole green world
was subject to my knife,
till more burgeoned from the box
than I could chop.

This wasn’t what we signed up for:
our direct debit, like the widow’s jar
of oil, a source of never-ending
anti-oxidants. I waited,
but could never catch the van.
Piled offerings at our door –

neighbours complained – we took them in.
I’ve called the helpline
and the chap from – Delhi?
Mumbai? – answers me,
then puts me through to silence,
growing quiet down the phone.

I sit among the congregated squash,
the jungled cress, the mute
appeal of finger-shaped shallots.
Wish that the zinging in my ears would shush,
ponder the way of xylem and of phloem,
pray for the peace of photosynthesis.

from The Tempest Prognosticator

Isobel Dixon was born in South Africa, studied in Scotland, and now lives in Cambridge, England. Her poems appear in publications like Magma, The Paris Review, The Guardian, Penguin’s Poems for Love, The Forward Book of Poetry and The Best of British Poetry 2011 (Salt, August 2011). The Financial Times  called her 2007 collection A Fold in the Map ‘poignant’ and ‘powerful’, and her new book The Tempest Prognosticator, described by J M Coetzee as ‘a virtuoso collection’, has just been published, also by Salt. Her work is also included in a group pamphlet The Art of Wiring (alongside Simon Barraclough, Luke Heeley, Christopher Reid, Liane Strauss and Roisin Tierney) to be published by Ondt & Gracehoper on 1 September. Having lived in Edinburgh for two years, she’ll grasp any excuse to return, and a year’s not complete without a chance to climb Arthur’s Seat.


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