Dove Release: New Flights and Voices by David Morley

“In his engaging introduction to this anthology mainly by young writers in their twenties with whom he and fellow tutors have worked together on the Practice of Poetry course at Warwick University, David Morley begins with a quotation from Kenneth Koch’s poems addressed “To My Twenties”. This was a time between the twenties and thirties, Koch writes, when “you were midmost / Most lustrous apparently strongest” and there is plenty of light and strength apparent in Dove Release. Plenty of variety, too, both in the poems themselves and the encounters which have inspired them.

Convinced that writing is an act of community and always in search of “open spaces for creative discovery”, Morley has encouraged his young writers to work not only in art galleries and nature reserves (he is himself a former ecologist) but also – and most rewardingly, it would appear – alongside research scientists in a spirit of mutual delight and respect. The scientists were “charmed and challenged” by the poets’ presence, and the poets energized by new language and material which find their way into work which, though sometimes overloaded with the excitement of fresh terminologies, is seldom less than technically accomplished. These terminologies are, as Morley points out, “gravid with metaphor” and thus ready to give birth to poems.

But Dove Release is not just the record of an experiment. The sixty poets, introduced alphabetically and without biographical notes, include several Gregory Award winners and a few of the tutors, among them Glyn Maxwell, Fiona Sampson and George Szirtes. Readers will find their own favourites, but of those which most successfully ingest scientific knowledge I’d pick Charlotte Jones’s “Cuttlefish”. Three scrupulously attentive poems by Emily Hasler compare favourably with the Elizabeth Bishop of “Sandpiper”, Luke Kennard wins a memorable simile prize for describing a friend’s “courteous smile like a weak / Line-break”, and Rebecca Fearnley’s “The Bipolar Bear” lives up to its clever title. In fact, there’s a lot of cleverness and fun, as might be expected from a project in which the poets and their tutors have evidently enjoyed working together.”

John Mole, Times Literary Supplement August 2010