Direct, evocative and fascinating, sometimes painfully beautiful, The Mara Crossing is a lyrical, delightfully far-ranging exploration of the meaning of “home” and “away” - and how migration has shaped and continues to re-shape the world. Bangkok Post.
Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction
Ruth is an award-winning British poet and writer, Poetry Fellow at King’s College London, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Council Member for the Zoological Society of London.
Her latest poetry collection is Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth:
poems on the Middle East, tracing a quest for harmony in the midst of destruction. “A meditation on conflict and history, like the ending of TS Eliot's Little Gidding without the mono-culturalism. Sustained feats of imagination: every detail is valuable.” (Independent) “Wonderful, audacious and minutely crafted. The magnificent central section about the crucifixion is an imaginative feat, and her command of register is masterly, moving from formal to conversational with graceful authority.” (Observer)
Ruth has been shortlisted for all major UK poetry prizes, most recently her 2012 collection The Mara Crossing, which mixes poems and prose to explore migration of animals and people. She has also published a novel on wildlife crime, Where the Serpent Lives, and eight books of non-fiction including I’m A Man: Sex, Gods and Rock ‘n’ Roll which weaves together Greek myth rock music and opera, and Tigers in Red Weather on wild tiger conservation. She teaches poetry at King’s College, London, is Ambassador for New Networks for Nature, and patron of 21st Century Tiger.
This twelve-foot torque is the iron ghost
of an ancient wheel turning riveted slats
back and up. Now stuck, now moving again
scattering diamonds from a twisting stream
by the library, bucketing over slimed rock
and combing the tangled grasses’ emerald hair.
This gash at the top of town, with its whiff
of Hades, is where we catch our glimpse
of what’s below. From here on down
we join the hectic flow to the ordinary:
tarmac, Spar, chip-shops; the dockside cafés
and whispering silver-and-isinglass mud
of Bantry Bay. But churning or still
fortune’s wheel sets the pace. This wet rock
grey as a seal diving into the dark,
this pour-down of spark-froth entering town
by way of the burying ground, runs under it all:
under Vickery’s, the famine graves,
the boarded-up House of Elegance, the fire station
and two-room museum with memorabilia
of martyrs and butter-making, photos of where we are
as it used to be, reports of sea-wrecks
and sea-rescue, the resin replica
of a cross descrying the quest of St Brendan
for Isles of the Blest. There’s been so much
I haven’t attended to. So much I didn’t see.