The Tempest Prognosticator (UK: Salt 2011)
In The Tempest Prognosticator leeches warn of storms, whales blunder up the Thames, beetles tap out courtship rituals, and women fall for deft cocktail makers and melancholy apes. With her keen eye and a gift for vividly capturing the natural world, Isobel Dixon entices the reader on a journey to make the familiar rich and strange. From Cape Town to Nagasaki, the Congo to the Karoo, creatures real and surreal flit, peck and spin fantastic webs across the page. Here real-life explorers Robert Byron and Mary Kingsley have encounters dangerous and humorous, we venture inside Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho house, and find Robinson Crusoe shipwrecked on the moon. Desire and loss are refracted through the writings of Eugene Marais and Shakespeare, through the art of Damien Hirst and Louise Bourgeois, through Pink Floyd's music and Fred Astaire's footwork, as a poet's vision of a world of art and nature emerges – stormy, celebratory, and revelatory.
The Tempest Prognosticator was shortlisted for the SALA Award in South Africa in 2012.
The Tempest Prognosticator (SA: Umuzi 2011)
‘A virtuoso collection...’ -- J M Coetzee
‘Isobel Dixon’s poetry possesses exquisite vigour, panache and a resourceful, ranging intelligence...Life-affirming, funny, almost liquid in the movement of language.’ -- David Morley
‘Frogs, birds, bats, baboons, monkeys, peacocks, lizards and boars leap, crawl, shimmer and swoop through Isobel Dixon's lusciously feral and finely crafted poems...a wake-up call to the imagination and the senses.’ -- Catherine Smith
‘The exquisitely written poems in Isobel Dixon's new collection teach us how to read the world anew.’ -- Gabeba Baderoon
A Fold in the Map
One of my favourite books, Jan Morris’s Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere inspired the title of my new collection A Fold in the Map. In this book, which resonates somewhere between history and travel book, she meditates on the city and so much more, using the 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.
Weather Eye began as a manuscript that won the unpublished section of the Sanlam Prize in South Africa in 2000. Gus Ferguson of Carapace published the collection in 2001 and it won the Olive Schreiner Prize, administered by the English Academy of South Africa, in 2004.
Olive Schreiner, author of The Story of An African Farm, is one of my literary heroines, so this was a particular thrill. She also loved the landscape of the Karoo – she lived in Cradock and is buried on a hilltop in the area, close to where I grew up, in Graaff-Reinet.
The wonderful South African artist and designer Lynne Stuartmade Weather Eye into a very beautiful book, and also designed two striking pamphlets: Unfold and Ask for It by Name.
The Art Of Wiring
Poems by Christopher Reid, Roisin Tierney, Liane Strauss, Isobel Dixon, Luke Heeley and Simon Barraclough. A sparky selection of poems from six poets, wired into a beautiful new multi-circuit pamphlet, published by Ondt & Gracehoper.
Ask for It by Name
Poems by Simon Barraclough, Olivia Cole, Isobel Dixon, Luke Heeley, Liane Strauss and Roisin Tierney. "A well-stocked anthology of fresh produce from six prize-winning poets. Behind the bottles and the butter you'll find Mussolini cheating on the tennis court and meet the shark from Jaws in a Yorkshire millpond; glimpse the love of woman for orang-utan and make it across the Spanish-Italian border; spy on the hobbies of cowboys and drink deep of the Molotov cocktail of love..." (from the back cover) £5/€7,00