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About the book
  • Published: 15 July 2016
  • ISBN: 9781910702437
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $30.00

Falling Awake




The finest living British poet comes to Cape with her extraordinary new book



Winner of the 2017 Griffin Prize

Winner of the 2016 Costa Poetry Award

Shortlisted for the 2016 T. S. Eliot Award

Shortlisted for the 2016 Forward Prize



A Daily Telegraph / Guardian / Herald / New Statesman / Sunday Times / Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year







Winner of the 2017 Griffin Prize
Winner of the 2016 Costa Poetry Award
Shortlisted for the 2016 T. S. Eliot Award
Shortlisted for the 2016 Forward Prize

A Daily Telegraph / Guardian / Herald / New Statesman / Sunday Times / Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year

Alice Oswald’s poems are always vivid and distinct, alert and deeply, physically, engaged in the natural world. Mutability – a sense that all matter is unstable in the face of mortality – is at the heart of this new collection and each poem is involved in that drama: the held tension that is embodied life, and life’s losing struggle with the gravity of nature.

Working as before with an ear to the oral tradition, these poems attend to the organic shapes and sounds and momentum of the language as it’s spoken as well as how it’s thought: fresh, fluid and propulsive, but also fragmentary, repetitive. These are poems that are written to be read aloud.

Orpheus and Tithonus appear at the beginning and end of this book, alive in an English landscape, stuck in the clockwork of their own speech, and the Hours – goddesses of the seasons and the natural apportioning of Time – are the presiding figures. The persistent conditions are flux and falling, and the lines are in constant motion: approaching, from daring new angles, our experience of being human, and coalescing into poems of simple, stunning beauty.

  • Pub date: 15 July 2016
  • ISBN: 9781910702437
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $30.00

About the Author

Alice Oswald

Alice Oswald lives in Devon and is married with three children. Her collections include Dart, which won the 2002 T.S. Eliot Prize, Woods etc. (Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize), A Sleepwalk on the Severn (Hawthornden Prize), Weeds and Wildflowers (Ted Hughes Award) and, most recently, Memorial, which won the 2013 Warwick Prize for Writing. ‘Dunt’, included in this collection, was awarded the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

Also by Alice Oswald

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Praise for Falling Awake

“She says that poetry is what happens when language becomes impossible. If you’ve never read her – get this collection now.”

Jeanette Winterson, Guardian, Book of the Year

“[A] modern classic.”

Jeremy Noel-Tod, Sunday Times, Book of the Year

“A miraculous collection.”

Kate Kellaway, Observer, Book of the Year

“A liminal text… Unmistakably original.”

Craig Raine, Times Literary Supplement, Book of the Year

“A sublime poet of the natural world.”

Rupert Thomson, Herald, Book of the Year

“An astonishing book of beauty, intensity and poise – a revelation…The collection’s title is spot on. I cannot think of any poet who is more watchful or with a greater sense of gravity.”

Kate Kellaway, Observer

“Stunning. Is she now our greatest living poet[?]… Her work is commanding… She is less twinkly-eyed than Simon Armitage, more committed to experimentation than Duffy and just as playful…as Don Paterson. For sheer, sustained invention and intellectual rigour, her work is perhaps closest to Kei Miller… If there’s any justice in the poetry world, the title [Poet Laureate] should be offered to this gardener-classicist who is bringing the British landscape to life in poetry again.”

Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph

“The pieces included here are held together by Oswald’s luminous, almost alien powers of observation.”

Yasmine Seale, Literary Review

“Magic, the music of nature, the resurrection of the dead: all these feel real when you read Alice Oswald. Her stunning new collection deserves the Forward Prize.”

Sunday Telegraph

“[It] confirms her as one of the most gifted English poets of the past 20 years.”

Jeremy Noel-Todd, Sunday Times

“She is a classicist and a gardener, an expert in the epic tradition and a riverside wanderer… Falling Awake provides the notation for an immersive aural experience; its current existence as a printed collection is not the incarnation for which it will be most celebrated, should Oswald choose to record it as a performance… It is certainly a strong contender in this year’s Forward Prizes, and a highly compelling meditation upon transience.”

Phil Brown, Huffington Post

“She not only makes some startlingly original imaginative leaps, but also manages to find the word to describe the scene when she lands.”

Roger Cox, Scotland on Sunday

“It does not disappoint… Fierce in the quality of her attention, often metaphorically dazzling, Oswald earns our trust through her authority.”

Fiona Sampson, Guardian

“Falling Awake continues to mine a fresh, inventive seam of observational poetry, tuned in to revelation and a feeling for those moments when the world seems to become strangely, truly itself. Oswald’s best poems bear comparison with D. H. Lawrence’s late work.”

John McAuliffe, Irish Times

“[It is] Terrific.”

Mark Ford, Times Literary Supplement, Book of the Year

“A gorgeous collection incorporating mythology and the everyday in nature… [Oswald’s is] a rare and beautiful voice.”

Clare Mulley, Skinny, Book of the Year

“Here we find an intriguing poet with a distinctive voice and an eye for those fascinating collisions between the ordinary and the poetic… Falling Awake is distinguished particularly by the sheer brilliance of Oswald’s expression. Simple images are transformed by the perfect cadence, the perfect assonance to create an image… It is the mark of a truly skilled versifier that their greatest strength be the one that we might most expect in a poet, yet which is so rare – the ability to craft a verse that captures an image and elevates it by revealing its poetry.”

Dan Etches, Oxford Student

“Making it onto The Forward Prize for Best Collection Shortlist, it does not disappoint when it described the beauty of birds and insects. Keep it in your bag for bus journeys.”

Culture Whisper, Book of the Year

“Falling Awake is easily one of the most accomplished collections of the past few years.”

Leaf Arbuthnot, The Times

“An absolute delight, with each carefully crafted line a revelation. Just try reading the lines out loud, and wait for the magic to catch you.”

Western Morning News

“In her most recent collection, Falling Awake, we find Oswald maintaining her thoughtful and intimate connection with nature and mythology… Oswald is one of Britain’s greatest and most admired poets, and Falling Awake shows us why.”

Brad Davies, Independent

“Oswald manages to make full formed, cool but passionate poems from the micro-moments that the rest of us either ignore or don’t know what to do with – the reflections of a cloud in a puddle, for example. With work free-formed, seductive and strange, Oswald is a terrific poet.”

Kathleen Jamie, New Statesman

“Oswald…is a marvellous poet whose work I treasure.”

Charlotte Higgins, Guardian


Awards & Recognition

  • Costa Poetry Award

    Winner • 2017 • Costa


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