Glowflake, Rocket, Small Skies, Kind Spears, Marilyn . . .
Moss is known as the living carpet but if you look really closely, it contains an irrepressible light. In Twelve Words for Moss, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett celebrates the unsung hero of the plant world with her unique blend of poetry, nature writing and memoir. Making her way through wetlands from Somerset to Country Tyrone, Burnett discovers the hidden vibrancy of these overlooked spaces, renaming her favourite species of moss as she recovers from her grief at her father's death and draws inspiration from the resilience and tenacity of her plant – and human – friends.
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is a writer of English and Kenyan heritage. She was born in Devon and her work is inspired by the landscape in which she was raised. She is the author of Swims, a Sunday Times Poetry Book of the Year, and her poetry has been highly commended in the Forward Prize.
"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 more so, 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
"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
"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
"Burnett stretches the limits of prose, infusing it with poetic intensity to create a powerful, original voice"