Twelve Words for Moss
by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
Penguin Press UK – Allen Lane, Particular, Pelican, Penguin Classics, Allen Lane
I loved this beautiful book--the subject matter, the writing, the structure, and the personal insights.
The author is grieving the loss of her father and finds hope in the way moss grows, thrives, and survives, even under harsh conditions. She finds comfort in her pursuit of knowledge about mosses. She revels in the times she can spend in the natural world, but since she is forced to be in a city for work much of the time, she is able to look for and observe the mosses growing in the urban environment she inhabits. She says that in times of grief or other hard times, a friend found it helpful to focus on small details to "block out the bigger picture." For her, mosses serve this purpose as well as providing a focal point from which she can explore various other aspects of her life and history, as well as that of her ancestors. She finds connections with her mother's experiences growing up in Kenya, for example.
The book is written/structured in an interesting and very effective way. There are short poems about specific kinds of mosses, but also prose sections. Nestled within these sections are rhyming sentences that form mini-poems within the prose.
Being a fan of moss myself, I enjoyed reading about it and how it grows. I will have even more respect for it now that I have read this book. Beyond that, this is jsimply a lovely book to read. The descriptions of the moss, the insights the author gains through her close observations, the gorgeous writing, the mini-poems within the prose, and the foundation of hope the author finds--each strand weaves together into a whole cloth that is full of colour, vibrancy, and beauty.
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I thank them, the publisher, and the author.