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Fish Eaters: Cross any ocean and you touch the matter of the world

Fish Eaters



Postage and Packing Free - A cohesive thread runs through the order in which poems are placed in the book. The author has written poems which are not over-literary in form, so that they may be accessible to people who do not normally read poetry.



Detailed Description

Publication date: 9 October 2015

ISBN 978-1-84102-397-7
46 pages

Some are written in what may at first seem a lighthearted way; this is done to underline the seriousness of many of the messages. The themes are the preciousness of marine life, the urgency of environmental concerns, the dangers to threatened species. A particular challenge in the writing of these poems was to reflect on scientific matters, without letting a poem become a piece of prose, and without going into too much technical detail. The James Lovelock concept of Gaia is alluded to, an example of a lighthearted look at a deadly serious subject, the behaviour of the jet stream and its effects on climate. There is also a poem about the tsunami, based on a childhood experience of the author. This poem is one that reflects the author's unique and individual life experiences. Another example of a particular piece of knowledge comes with the poem 'pole of inaccessibility'. Although the author gathered the material for this poem within the Institute, she was able to add the Coca Cola can that was found under the north pole, having met the Canadian explorer who was the first person to dive there. 'Bulk mailing' returns to the theme of damage to the environment, again using a light tone as it reflects on the devastation to wildlife from the effects of ships emptying their tanks of noxious fluids. The final poems in the book reflect on humanity s place within the environment, and the inescapable fact that we ourselves are composed mainly of water.

Review Breaching the space between the seen and unseen, going under what Melville called the oceans skin, Caroline Carver places herself at the edge of the unknown sea and prints us back into its memory, gloriously. Philip Hoare author of Leviathan, or The Whale and The Sea Inside


Caroline Carver’s most recent collection Fish Eaters was the result of her residency from early in 2013 at Plymouth University’s Marine Institute.

A collection published in visual presentation format by University of Plymouth Press, it is a collaborative effort to bring together the disciplines of science, engineering and art and to celebrate the innovative new marine building at the university. 

Everything about this collection is a visual delight, from the slightly embossed image on the cover, to the beautiful digitised illustrations and photographs which accompany Caroline’s words. Then there are the words themselves. Their physical layout on the page is memetic of the waves of the sea which is such a central subject in this collection and from a linguistic standpoint, an afternoon spent poring over these poems is as hypnotic as any spent with one’s feet in the shallows watching the gentle ebbing and flowing of the water. This device was something which really impacted upon my reading of the poems – there is a gently soothing quality to the poems which make them a pleasure to read, but it is afterwards, when those words have rolled over you and washed away everything you thought you knew about those who love the sea and those who live in it, that the impact of the poems is truly felt. 

In every poem there is an exultant sense of celebration, this collection truly is homage to time spent considering the relationship between science and art and also an exercise in humbling humanity by comparison to the vastness and presence of the ocean. Whilst Fish Eaters got me considering the sea, its creatures and marine science, I also found myself considering profound ideas like humanity’s insignificance when compared with the ocean. It is as Carver suggests in the poem ‘Water’: 

our bones are heavy with it
each time we take a newborn in our arms
we cradle an ocean

The ocean almost becomes metaphorical for the vast journey of life that we are on and in every one of her poems Carver soothes and lulls our worries in the ocean’s embrace. 

This collection was truly a joy to read and a welcome addition to my bookshelf. I was left feeling as if in her pursuit to explore how science and art can be connected, what Caroline Carver has achieved is the production of science as art and it is beautiful to behold. 

I thoroughly recommend Fish Eaters to poetry lovers, the collection is visually pleasing and would make an excellent gift or a perfect addition to your own poetry libraries.

Literature Works 24 March 2016

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