Twelve Words for Moss

Elizabeth-Jane Burnett author


Publisher:Penguin Books Ltd

Published:18th May '23


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Twelve Words for Moss cover



'Exquisite, luminous and quietly radical . . . I loved it' Lucy Jones

'A fascinating, subtle and risk-taking book' Robert Macfarlane

Glowflake, Rocket, Small Skies, Kind Spears, Marilyn . . . Moss is known as the living carpet but if you look really closely, it contains its own irrepressible light.

In Twelve Words for Moss, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett celebrates the unsung hero of the plant world with a unique blend of poetry, nature writing and memoir.

Making her way through wetlands from Somerset to County Tyrone, Burnett discovers the hidden vibrancy and luminous beauty of these overlooked places. She also takes strength from them as she recovers from her grief at her father's death. As she meditates on and renames her favourite species of moss, she finds a healing power in language, and draws inspiration from the resilience and tenacity of her plant - and human - friends.

'Burnett stretches the limits of prose, infusing it with poetic intensity to create a powerful, original voice' Guardian

Twelve Words for Moss is a fascinating, subtle and risk-taking book; its remarkable opening pages in particular dis-orient and re-orient the reader, readying us for the forms of attention-giving to the overlooked and undersung world of mosses which the rest of the book beautifully practices. Poetry, descriptive-evocative prose, memory, memoir, natural history and more all drift and mingle in strikingly new ways in Burnett's book, down at the "boundary layer" where this ancient, modest life flourishes so generatively -- Robert Macfarlane
Exquisite, luminous and quietly radical ... so electric and so alive. It makes the world more beautiful and dimensional and vibrant - or moreso, it shows the world as it is to our moss-blind, weary eyes with a prose style that is utterly unique and refreshing ... I loved it -- Lucy Jones
This accomplished writer's prose - filled with figurative and tactile imagery - and interspersed poetry powerfully join the human body, mind, and spirit with the Earth * The Countryman *
In this luminous book, poetry and dreamy prose weave a strange kind of mossy magic. Taking the “most overlooked of life forms” as her inspiration, Burnett explores intriguing parallels between the lives of mosses and her own… This is an intense book that rewards careful reading. I took my time over it, absorbing a few pages and then letting the beautiful, unforgettable imagery soak in. Burnett is a unique voice and one of our most original nature writers -- Ben Hoare * BBC Countryfile Best Nature Book of the Year *
The poet Elizabeth-Jane Burnett has woven a bittersweet travelogue-cum-nature memoir… It thrums with loss. * The Sunday Times *
A masterclass in the art of prose writing, and my favourite nonfiction book in a very long time -- Sharon Blackie * author of If Women Rose Rooted *
Hybridity (of form, subject) is what makes Elizabeth-Jane Burnett's work sing, beguile. Part poet, prose nature writer and woodland psychogeographer, her voice is her own -- Sinéad Gleeson * author of Constellations: Reflections From Life *
Praise for The Grassling * : *
A subtle, moving celebration of place and connectedness . . . The Grassling brings the sounds, smells and sights of the countryside alive like few other books. Burnett stretches the limits of prose, infusing it with poetic intensity to create a powerful, original voice . . . Her prose is both sinuous and knotty, stretching language to capture what is often beyond words, while slowing down the process of reading, allowing us to savour them -- PD Smith * Guardian *
Exquisite . . . needs to be savoured slowly, and then read again. Burnett is breaking new ground as a mixed-heritage English/Kenyan woman connecting so deeply to the historic land of her father's family in the West Country -- Bernardine Evaristo
With a blend of poetry, memoir and a uniquely experimental, sensory style of nature writing, The Grassling celebrates the lusciousness of both land and language ... Ideas that might in a lesser writer have seemed whimsical are grounded by the rich layers of Burnett's prose -- Clare Saxby * TLS *

ISBN: 9780241556832

Dimensions: 216mm x 135mm x 14mm

Weight: 194g

192 pages