Reviews for Taxus Baccata

John McCullough – Poet (Winner of the Hawthornden Prize for Literature 2020 and shortlisted for the Poetry Costa Award 2019)

“Reading the poems together is like stepping into a forest where each tree has a highly individual character. Patricia M Osborne does really well to conjure up such a playful range of voices that feel different yet enhance one another, and her shifts in stanza length add brilliant disruption.”

Alison Chisholm – Poet and Poetry Columnist on Writing Magazine 

“Patricia M Osborne writes of the natural world with keen observation and a sensitivity for the trees and flowers, birds and animals that fill it.  In this collection we learn of traditions, mythology and lore, factual information and fantasy, mingling in one glorious cornucopia.  Patricia casts her true poet’s eye over it all, and clothes it in images to enchant the reader.” 



Profound and illuminating (Sally Spedding – Reviewed on Amazon. UK August 2020)

If you’re looking for a unique and not always comfortable read about trees and wild life, look no further than the chilling three line stanza of ‘May Bloom’ which is poet Patricia M. Osborne’s entree to the main course, setting the tone for survival in the natural world. I was hooked from here to the very last, eponymously titled ‘Taxus Baccata’ where this conifer (also known as a yew and a healer believed to root in the mouths of the dead, release their souls and absorb the smell of decaying bodies) makes a moving plea to all of us who suffer.

A remarkable and thought-provoking collection where so often I find other poets’ egos are king, but not here. Hats off too, to Mark Davidson, editor of The Hedgehog Poetry Press, helping to put such a unique talent ‘on the map.’

Spellbound by Taxus Baccata(P. Sewards on Amazon UK August 2020)

Taxus Baccata is a book of poems I will keep close to me so I can read again and again. Although comforting to read the poems are far from cosy. Patricia M Osborne writes about nature using folklore, myth and legend. The poems are often lyrical and beautiful but do not shy away from the violence of traditional folk stories. The joy for me is in the way the poet focuses on a particular tree, or seagull or landscape and makes it real and sensual while also shapeshifting and resonant with history and stories. Notably economic with language and with forensic attention paid to structure and titles this Hedgehog Press publication is as powerful as a book of spells.

Beautiful Poetry, Delightful and Captivating(Avid reader on Amazon UK August 2020)

To instil a love of literature, a copy of Taxus Baccata should be in every home. I found this book by chance, scrolling through the poetry section. I instantly loved the cover. The trees held an air of mystery and I was intrigued to read what was inside. I wasn’t disappointed. The poems are a pleasure to read and I particularly enjoyed Stratford Mums. If you’re a lover of poetry, you’ll find this small collection delightful and captivating.

A ballet of winged beauty grounded in the magic of the yew tree(Damien B Donnelly – reviewed on Amazon UK August 2020)

Step into the forest, far from concrete distractions of chaotic cities and be ‘gifted with magic’ beneath the yew tree, sit back on the grass and watch the sky ballet begin as ‘triangular wings beat in unison’. ‘Come to me’ the forest sings & the journey is well worth it. Patricia knows how to ground us, enchant us and carry us off into the sky to soar. I was feeling stressed last Sunday and took this from the shelf and moments into it- I felt lighter, gifted indeed.

Beautiful Poetry(Bookworm on Amazon UK July 2020)

I was lucky to get a ‘before release day copy’ of this lovely work, the poetry is so calming and beautiful and I recommend this to anyone who likes poetry and wants a unique work.

Patricia M Osborne’s Poetry Collection ‘Taxus Baccata’ (Margaret Royall – Poet/Author – review received by email)

Taxus Baccata is a truly stunning collection of poetry featuring trees and nature as the main subject, incorporating well-researched references to related myths and  folklore. The poems do not, however, shy away from darker details of their history; they find a place there too.  For me personally they form a delightful cornucopia of all things dendrology. There is much for us to learn and ponder in skilfully penned lines which fascinate and draw the reader in. A must read collection which will linger long in the mind after the last page has been turned.

Patricia M Osborne’s Poetry Collection ‘Taxus Baccata’ (Nigel Kent – Poet)

Taxus Baccata is a truly stunning collection of poetry featuring trees and nature as the main subject, incorporating well-researched references to related myths and  folklore. The poems do not, however, shy away from darker details of their history; they find a place there too.  For me personally they form a delightful cornucopia of all things dendrology. There is much for us to learn and ponder in skilfully penned lines which fascinate and draw the reader in. A must read collection which will linger long in the mind after the last page has been turned.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the illustration for Tricia Osborne’s ‘Taxus Baccata’ provides the exception. It gives the reader the perfect insight in to this mix of fantasy, myth and vivid observation.

One cannot read Osborne’s poems without sharing her sense of awe in nature. In ‘Sky Ballet’ she evokes the beauty of the synchronised movement of migrating starlings; in ‘Straford Mums‘ she describes the elegant beauty of a swan caring for her cygnets as the ‘scarlet and gold maples wave/either side of slow wrinkled water’; and in ‘Sunrise Concertante’ birds combine their voices to produce a harmonious concerto where ‘Air warmed sweet-grasses/fan fragrance into the wind: marsh marigolds shine.’ Osborne is a keen observer of nature, able to create what she sees and hears through vivid imagery. This sense of wonder is reinforced by her use of natural settings for fantasy, myth and legend. Nature is a magical place inhabited by spirits, a place where momentous things happen with the natural environment as both witness and participant.

Whilst she portrays nature as a source of stunning beauty, fertility and love, the poems also show it to have a darker, sinister side. Mother Nature can be cruel and the forest can also be a place of suffering, conflict and death. This paradox is epitomised in ‘Water Stalker’, the heron is described as ‘a dancer’, elegant and balletic. Yet he is also ‘a gatecrasher’, an ‘intruder’ stalking ‘innocent prey’ who ‘continue to play, unaware’. Significantly, the collection begins with the poem ‘May Bloom’ that warns us that the pure ‘white blossom smells of death, /bringing black angels’. It is easy to be seduced by the sensual delights of nature and be blinded to its dangers.

Although there is a sense of reality here, the tone of this collection is not downbeat by any means. The collection is aptly titled, ‘Taxus Baccata’, the common yew: symbol of fertility, life, death and, most importantly, of resurrection.  Yews she tells us are ‘sacred’, ‘protect the dead’, ‘house living creatures’. Though we may suffer, the yew is our ‘healer’.

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