In her fourth collection, Isobel Dixon takes readers on a journey to far-flung and sometimes dark places. From Robben Island to Hiroshima, Egypt to Edinburgh, the West Bank and beyond, these poems are forays of discovery and resistance, of arrival and loss.
Bearings sings of love too, and pays homage to lost friends and poets – the voices of John Berryman, Robert Louis Stevenson and others echo here. As Dixon explores form and subject, and a sometimes troubled past, she keeps a weather eye out for telling detail, with a sharp sense of the threat that these journeys, our wars and stories, and our very existence pose to the planet.
Isobel Dixon was born in Mthatha and grew up in Graaff-Reinet. She studied in Edinburgh and now works in London, returning frequently to her family home in the Karoo. She was awarded the Olive Schreiner Prize for her debut, Weather Eye, and followed this with A Fold in the Map and The Tempest Prognosticator, which J.M. Coetzee described as ‘a virtuoso collection’. She often collaborates with artists and composers and co-authored and performed in The Debris Field, about the sinking of RMS Titanic. Her work is recorded for the Poetry Archive.
‘With every airport lounge a new starting point, Isobel Dixon’s poetry is truly an international event. Her work is a perpetual transformation, inexhaustible even though anything in it can be said aloud, and indeed demands to be. There is something new under the sun on every page.’ – Clive James
‘Here is a new collection by a poet at ease with a variety of forms and approaches, and possessing the confidence to address experiment in her work. The poems often sparkle with colour, and are feisty, full of rich doubt, and complex considerations of world and self. Much energy is released into being by these poems, whether the poet is drawing on her South African roots in both contemporary and historic settings, or whether her subject is Seville, Cambridge or Dubai. A wide-ranging collection in many senses then, venturesome and powerful, remaining in the mind long after reading.’
‘A poet confident in her mastery of her medium.’
‘One of the finest South African poets writing today.’
“Bearings by Isabel Dixon displays the subtle elegance and finely tuned poetic sense which characterised her earlier three volumes… what impressed me most about the collection is the display by a poet in full control of both the art and the craft of poetry, revealing a keen mind and an insightful intellect, always light and sparkling, never plodding or ponderous, yet always touching on what is important.” –
“Isobel Dixon was born with the gift of lyricism as natural speech.”
“Exquisite vigour, panache and a resourceful, ranging intelligence.”