25 November 2021
A fascinating collection concerning the life cycle of the oak tree, from the winner of the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize
Oak is a terrifically imaginative look at the life cycle of the oak, from acorn to mighty, its place in the forest ecosystem, the home it provides for animals, the role, both practical and mythical, that it plays in the human realm. It is a remarkable window into the slow journey of a different kind of consciousness and being, one we rarely see depicted in this way.
📖 My Review..
There is no doubt that the mighty oak tree has a special place in our hearts. But what of the tree itself? In this beautiful poem Katharine Towers, shares a remarkable journey through the seven stages of the oak’s life, and from infancy, through to old age the oak tree comes alive, and grows to maturity in our imagination, from the delicacy of saplings, to the heartwood of an oak which has ‘outlived its vigour’.
This stalwart guardian of our ancient forests carefully spreads its branches in order to shelter a microcosm of activity in a secret world both within, and below. Each moment of its life cycle is so beautifully described it’s like we are standing with a glorious leafy canopy spreading before us and opening magically into the secret world of the birds, insects and plants who make the oak tree their home.
Although there are distinct sections, the poem flows as one movement so that it becomes perfectly possible to read OAK in one sitting. However, once finished I found myself turning to read parts of it again, enjoying the beauty and imagery as it unfolds, and each time finding something new to ponder over and enjoy.
"..a child puts an acorn under her pillow
to see what dreams will come.."
Poetry is a very personal experience and each reader will take something different away but for me, I think that it reminded me of the sheer mindfulness of walking through some of our ancients woodlands which have been such a life saver over the lockdown of recent months. On my local walks I’ve seen trees in various stages of both growth, and decay, some slumbering softly on the woodland floor, whilst others towering above in all their glory.
OAK is, quite simply, a beautiful piece of layered writing from a wonderfully imaginative poet. It will appeal to all those who love the special nooks and crannies of our woodlands and especially our glorious oak trees who continue to survive, and thrive, in our troubled world.
Best read with ...a little drink of oak from an acorn cup.
About the Author
Katharine Towers was born in London and now lives in Derbyshire. She has published two poetry collections, both with Picador. The Floating Man won the Seamus Heaney |Centre Prize and was shortlisted for the Jerwood-Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and for the Ted Hughes Award for New works in poetry.
Katharine's poems have been broadcast on Radio 3 and Radio 5 and have appeared in several anthologies, as well as in the Guardian, Poetry Review and Poetry London. From 2016-2018 Katharine was Poet in Residence at the Cloud Appreciation Society.
Twitter @TowersKatharine #Oak