Angela King and Susan Clifford (editors) - The River’s Voice

Green Books £9.95
ISBN 1-870089-82-X

Anthologies of poetry about rivers are about as rare as rocking horse droppings, so I was pleased to see this one dropping through the letter box. Well actually I didn’t really see it drop through the letter box, because I was out at work at the time, but I am sure it did drop, as there was no-one else in the house to grab it before it did, and if there wasn’t anyone to grab it, and it didn’t drop, it would have been floating around the hall about three feet in the air when I got home at lunchtime, which would have been really remarkable.

Anyway, this anthology has got just about every piece of decent verse I can think of relating to riparian matters in it, and many I can’t think of. The spread of authors is commendably broad, from John Donne to Seamus Heaney, and the rivers range from the Sacramento to the Stour, taking in the Moscow river and the Ganges on the way. Though much of the poetry is in the babbling brook class (at the superior end, though, Wordsworth writing about the very best sort of babbling you can get), there is the odd poem to make you sit up and pay attention, like Roy Fisher’s Abstracted Water and David Constantine’s A Two-Seater Privy Over a Stream. Good stuff for bedtime reading.

Amazingly enough, in 2011, this is still in print, a decade after publication, which says a great deal about the integrity of Green Books. If only all publishers took the same view.