About A Fold in the Map:
One of my favourite books, Jan Morris’s Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere, inspired the title of my second collection, A Fold in the Map. In her book, which resonates somewhere between history and travel book, Jan Morris meditates on the city and so much more, using the title phrase to describe the in-betweenness of travellers – something I feel very strongly.
This feeling comes through in the first half of my collection, where many poems were written looking back to South Africa from Scotland and England, to the climate and people and creatures I still miss.
The second half – after the ‘fold’ in a way – is about a person I miss very much indeed, at a distance that can’t be changed by a long-haul flight. My father, asthmatic and often ill, but unfailingly cheerful, died in 2002, and the poems here are about him, his illness and death, and of course also about my four sisters, and my mother, the women who loved him.
Praise for A Fold in the Map:
‘Fine, warm, sensuous poems which deal boldly with both the light and dark sides of family life and with the many manifestations and resonances of grief.’ – Kate Clanchy
‘Isobel Dixon was born with the gift of lyricism as natural speech. A measure of her accomplishment is that all the sense impressions of Africa, even if the reader has never actually been there, live naturally in her poetry as if it were the only landscape. The vivid surroundings of her childhood got into her rhythms and her phrases. A second, perhaps sadder story, springs from that. She is looking back to something lost, even as she continues to engage in the history of the land where she was born. She has the language for her political situation, too, and for a third story, about her father’s death, she has the language of deep grief – a longing, beyond mere nostalgia, for both a childhood and a homeland.’ – Clive James
‘When my father died a few years ago I was totally inconsolable and found comfort only in books – especially books of poetry such as Isobel Dixon’s A Fold in the Map, in which she writes about the death of her father.’ – Grethe Fox, Femina
‘Another lyrical voice is Isobel Dixon, whose A Fold in the Map has a powerful section charting the illness and death of her father.’ – Elaine Feinstein, The Times Christmas Choice 2007: The year’s most sublime verses’
‘More understated but no less powerful is Isobel Dixon's A Fold in the Map, which includes a poignant retelling of her father's illness and decline ... Dixon's own graceful style provides soothing contrast to the bewilderment and indignity her father suffers.’ – Nathalie Whittle, Financial Times
‘[Poetry] evoking the textures and shapes of this country ... calling up simple but potent memories of family life. ... The freight of memory and love and loss coalesce into profoundly moving elegy; these are "stigmata for my father / and his panel-beaten heart". – Shaun de Waal, Mail and Guardian
‘Weather Eye is a finely crafted evocation of place and intimacy; while A Fold in the Map is a poignant and delicately controlled tribute to memory and to family. Both collections moved and challenged and excited me with their honesty and courage.’ – Kobus Moolman, LitNet
‘Isobel Dixon’s gift is to bring the same exactitude to the rendering of physical detail as she does to the awesome pit-face of human grief. The intimate details of her personal history are reported with congeniality and with admirable control.’ – Tim Liardet