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Showing posts from August, 2011

An Artist of the Floating World

In his collection of essays Music at Night, Aldous Huxley famously remarked that "after silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music". The idea is by no means a new one: where words fall short, music can often seem uniquely placed to articulate our subtlest moods, thoughts and emotions. Yet few can have explored this concept, or its wider complexities, with the delicacy and originality of thought that Katharine Towers achieves in this ambitious, powerful and memorable debut, longlisted for the Guardian first book award.

In their deft harnessing of the music intrinsic to language – that which fuels poetry's thrilling confusion of sense with sound – Towers's poems are akin to those moments of quiet clarity amid the bustle and blur of daily life. The book's opening poem, "Amber", is a terse vignette that sets the tone with an elegant metaphor: figured as a frail "thought" and, by extension, a stay against confusion, t…