Swimming Between Islands, Charlotte Eichler's first collection, has its own distinctive weathers, atmospheres and fauna. Egg collectors, moth trappers, hermits, cuttlefish, pyjama sharks and bloody henry starfish all play a part. This islanded world is the starting point for poems that explore how we try to connect with each other – despite misunderstanding, family silences and unwanted legacies.
'Read Charlotte Eichler's poems slowly, so that you can really take note of them, because they're astonishing,' said Laura Scott, responding to Eichler's poems in New Poetries VIII. Anthony Vahni Capildeo characterised her first pamphlet as 'modern pastoral, not nostalgic, and well beyond the ordinary domestic lyric'. Swimming Between Islands gathers this work with a substantial collection of new poems.
In Eichler's poems, the first person singular is relational, social; it refuses to mark one consciousness neatly off from another. The poems’ perspective is often plural, a 'we' which is one minute a couple considering marriage, the next, childhood friends divining the future from ladybirds and four-leafed clovers. The reader is invited to come close, and then right into the centre of the poem; the book progresses towards ever wilder, more isolated places in Scotland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, where 'we are found: / the gannets are white flares / hitting the water / under a fishbone sky'.