Katharine Towers

25 November 2021
112 pages


Oaks are some of our oldest companions, and have been rooted in human imagination and language for millennia. Their great, slow lives have always demanded our careful consideration (indeed Virginia Woolf’s Orlando took 300 years over their own quercian epic). Katharine Towers’ new sequence of poems accompanies the oak from acorn to grave, and into its afterlife; playful, lyric and lucid, Oak is also shot through with an ecocritical awareness that renders it utterly contemporary. Towers’ precise eye and gift for sharp comparison allows us to enter into the life of the tree, and the birds and insects and plants it hosts; it shows how its seven ages echo and rhyme with our own, and how, by implication, we may also be tied to the same cycle of death and renewal. Oak wins its power through an extraordinary act of imaginative voicing, and accomplishes the most important work of the nature poem: to take the reader out of themselves, and into the larger world they also inhabit.
Inventive, capacious and full of the surprises witnessed only by the truly observant, Oak is an arboreous atlas for our age
In Oak, the poet's life is equal to the tree's, and the two meet in delicate reflection on the page. Like the acorn it begins with, this poem is a plucky epic
Oak is the most beautiful thing. A long poem at once fragmentary and whole, with all the sophistication of folklore and all the play of true poetry. Katherine Towers is one of the most original and gifted poets now writing. Her brilliant book is something no other could do, “an outburst of words” so old and English and fresh.