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Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

"These poems flow and sing through salt and sweet water ... Swims is a wondrous, perfect thing"

Philip Hoare
longlisted for the 2020 laurel prize

Plunge into mountain lakes and drift along meandering rivers in Swims, the debut poetry collection by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

A long poem taking many forms, Swims begins and ends in Devon, moving across the waterways of England and Wales: from urban pond to open sea. The poet swims among fishermen on Grasmere, reimagines the body as bottle cap in the Channel, and clambers down the bank of the river Ouse with words scrawled on her swimsuit.

As political as they are personal, these meditations are conceived as environmental acts that probe the relationship between landscape, memory and the self. A sinuous, innovative debut, Swims reminds us of the power of swimming to transform the human spirit, registering what the water gives to us and what it takes away.

Our price £9.99
RRP £9.99
Please note: due to the recent change in tax regulations, we are currently unable to ship to EU countries.
64 pages
ISBN 9781908058492
Published 12 September 2017
Cover design: George Simkin


If poetry has a value over and above what the market assigns, then perhaps the fluid line and deep currents of Swims can help resist environmental catastrophe.
Richard Lea, The Guardian

A clear-eyed ecological poem that washes off the urban world.
Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times

This book refreshes like an icy dip, startling us from both comfort and despair. Burnett's poems invite the reader into the water with them; to take action, accept responsibility, and find joy: "it is all yours, this open possibility".
Emily Hasler, The Poetry Review

A revelatory poetics ... [Burnett] maps coordinates across time and geography, producing a luminous, hallucinatory effect of an endlessly drifting, spinning world.
Srishti Krishnamoorthy-Cavell, Poetry London

Language is at full spate here. We can see why the collection should be considered one long poem, working in the liminal space of merger and separation that matches both the acts of swimming and memory, marked by the pulse of consonantal music.
Andrew Jeffrey, Poetry School

Lush with lyric.
Claire Crowther, Magma

Swims ... reminds me that it is poets who are currently doing some of the keenest and most urgent thinking – and unthinking – about politics, philosophy, and ethics. These lyrical poems reimagine our human relationship to the water.
Nell Osborne, The Compass

About the author

Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is a poet and academic with a focus on innovative poetics. She holds a BA in English from Oxford, an MA and PhD in Contemporary Poetics from Royal Holloway, University of London, and studied performance at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York and Naropa. Creative publications include oh-zones, Her Body: The City, Exotic Birds and M (a poem-film about John Clare with artist Brian Shields). Her work has been anthologised in Dear World and Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK (Bloodaxe, 2013) and Out of Everywhere 2: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK (Reality Street, 2015). She curates ecopoetics exhibitions and is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Newman University in Birmingham.

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