Charlotte Eichler is an award-winning poet based in West Yorkshire, UK. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including Carcanet's New Poetries VIII (2021), The Island Review, The Manchester Review, PN Review and The Rialto. Her debut pamphlet, Their Lunar Language, came out with Valley Press in 2018 and was one of the Poetry School's books of the year. Her first collection, Swimming Between Islands, will be published by Carcanet in February 2023.
An introduction to Charlotte's work by the poet Laura Scott can be read over on Carcanet's New Poetries VIII blog.
Swimming Between Islands
Swimming Between Islands 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’.
Their Lunar Language
‘Their Lunar Language infolds named and imaginary, near and far-flung places. It assembles a disquieting array of feminine characters, later bringing in masculine figures of tenderness and fragility. This creates a powerful authorial perspective, not mistakable for any other voice. Brides and cuttlefish, wayward or broken forms of love, woodlands transposable with human manufacture: this is modern pastoral, not nostalgic, and well beyond the ordinary domestic lyric.’
– Anthony Vahni Capildeo
‘Every time you feel like you know where you're headed with this gorgeous-looking pamphlet something comes along and jabs you in the neck. Whether the little girl with her collection of tortured insects, the brooches of milk teeth, or the unchanging views of Prague in the red View-Master – there’s a kind of spooky dream world here, full of uncomfortable detail, beautifully rendered. More please!’
‘Their Lunar Language is a timely and discomfiting exploration of our ambivalent interactions with the non-human – and with each other. Eichler exposes our uneasy relationship with the natural world with subtlety and originality. [Hers] is a voice that deserves to be heard in this increasingly fractured world, in which so much is at stake.’
– Sarah Westcott, review for the Poetry School