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Auscultation

Ilse Pedler
ISBN-13: 
9781781726266
Publication Date: 
Monday, June 21, 2021
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Auscultation means listening and specifically, in medicine, listening to sounds that come from the body’s internal organs. If listening is a central theme of this collection, it is also about being heard. Ilse Pedler is poet of breadth and depth. There are poems about waiting rooms and surgical instruments, about crisis calls, about overhearing farmers and pet owners and colleagues. There are poems about surviving a stern childhood and a heartbreaking sequence about being a stepmother. This is a compelling set of poems from a striking new voice.

 

In this unique and utterly original collection, Ilse Pedler explores the brutal and beautiful world of being a vet and a stepmother. This is a book filled with blood, but also with air and light, a book of hard-won knowledge, a book that is both pragmatic and tender, about listening and being listened to, and the types of care we give and receive.” – Kim Moore

‘Listen’, listen closely, these poems ask. Draw near and pay intimate attention to the minute beats and actions that surround and connect us – those of animals, other humans, and the environment. As a practising veterinary surgeon ‘at the warmth’s core’, Pedler explores the daily dramas and dilemmas of the consulting room, the operating theatre, the field, and brings in wider themes of scientific knowledge, family, fairytales, and belonging. The precision in her language matches the precision in her noticing, as we recognise how ‘our bodies are never silent’ and she helps us marvel at ‘the soft persistence of tissue’.” – Heidi Williamson

 

Ilse Pedler reads her poem ‘Miss Freak’s Whelping Forceps’

 

Watch the full online launch of Auscultation here:

 

REVIEWS

Review by Caroline Bracken, Nation Cymru

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Auscultation is Ilse Pedler’s first full collection, many of the poems inspired by her work as a vet including ‘Miss Freak’s Whelping Forceps’ first published in Butcher’s Dog. It is a fine example of these unsentimental, accomplished poems:

‘How they laboured, these men
with their unforgiving fists of metal
but in the feral hours where instinct loosens
itself from shadows, it’s Miss Freaks we reach for
to coax the unborn to crown the light.’

The detached tone of these poems is perfectly in line with the detachment necessary for the vet’s tasks:

‘Tools to clamp and grasp, to retract
muscle until you see the white strain
of fibres, to probe and dilate,
to ratchet back bone, exposing cavities,’ (‘Surgical Instruments’)

As the title of the collection implies, these poems are all about listening and being listened to but Pedler also has a fine ear for language, its musicality and cadences. This is showcased in the pantoum ‘Behind City Doors’ and the sestina ‘The Importance of Air’. This poet knows her craft and is at her best when she experiments with form such as in ‘The silence is’, ‘Auscultation’, ‘Voicemail’ which make use of white space and allow the poems’ content to be reflected in form:

Tick tock         non stop
footstep           raindrop
roof top           drum beat (‘Auscultation’)

Other poems in this ambitious collection address themes of family,

‘I come from a place where children were seen and not heard,
where mantelpiece clocks chimed the quarter hours
and lavender bags hung like seed pods in wardrobes’ (‘Unmade’)

The repetition of ‘I come from a place’ at the start of each stanza and the sentiment of the poem is reminiscent of Kim Moore’s ‘My People’, Langston Hughes’ poem of the same name, ‘I Come From’ by Dean Atta, and ‘For My People’ by Margaret Walker. In his new, second collection Karaoke King, Dai George has a similar poem ‘Soon Forward’ but he changes the refrain to ‘My family friends’.

‘My family friends were orators and preachers’ sons. Pit electricians, barristers, architects and clowns.’

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