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Lila Matsumoto

Lila Matsumoto reviews Frances Presley

A halse is an embrace, from Old English, ‘halsian’: a falling upon the neck. Halse is also Exmoor dialect for the hazel tree, a derivation which Frances Presley discovered in the writings of Hazel Eardley-Wilmot, archaeologist and historian of the forests of Exmoor in West Somerset. Presley’s latest collection of poems holds Eardley-Wilmot’s conservation work of woods and words in close regard as both seed and strand. Presley notes in an essay on her website that ‘This question about the name “hazel” is, indirectly, about [Eardley-Wilmot’s] first name, and must have been of interest to her, as it is for me. My own experience of nominative determinism has to do with FP = footpaths.’ Presley’s trajectories take us on a compelling journey across overlooked landscapes and vocabularies, from Exmoor to Scotland and across the Atlantic.

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Date: 26 November 2015

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