Footnotes to Water
Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2020
"Skoulding’s poems span time and space, giving a depth and complexity that unnerve the senses. Her themes have a rare range, not simply providing a dark view on human greed and destruction but also celebrating cultures and landscapes, lightening the pessimism. Wales infuses her work, an infectious enthusiasm for the country’s heritage and passion for languages. The translator’s ability to bridge cultures makes Footnotes to Water an exceptional collection." - DURA
Footnotes to Water imagines a river as a transverse section, cutting through urban and rural spaces, connecting places that are themselves in flux. Zoë Skoulding follows the mysterious path of the culverted Afon Adda in Bangor, close to where she lives, as it draws her into conversations with the city as well as with the sound of the river itself, half-heard under the metal plates of the observation chambers along its route. It leads her to the Bièvre, a lost Parisian stream that once ran through streets of tanneries and past the Gobelins tapestry factory, where the quality of a famous red dye was attributed to the river’s polluted water. Following literary traces as well as exploring landscapes, a sequence on hefting sheep links the two rivers, extending the idea of local habitat or cynefin to encompass the interweaving lives of different cultures and species.