Auscultation by Ilse Pedler – A compelling set of poems from a striking new voice.
Ilse Pedler is a prize-winning poet who writes from the unique perspective of a practicing veterinary surgeon. Her title: Auscultation: means listening and specifically, in medicine, listening to sounds that come from the body’s internal organs. If listening is a central theme of this collection; it is also about being heard. This is a voice that has longed to be understood and heard from the depths of a difficult childhood and the emotions later raised by a court case for contact with her stepson.
Pedler’s style is realist, often fiercely so, with the conviction of one who speaks from experience. There are a number of fascinating poems about surgical instruments. There are scissors and clips, scalpels, gloves, whiffs of chemicals and disinfectants. All is not as relatively calm as the operating theatre, for there are also distant hill farms, pig pens, shearing sheds, stables, milking parlours, and freezing fields on winter nights. Formally the poems are also skilful and diverse with a broad range of forms from sestina to sonnet.
There are poems also about the author’s constrained childhood, where children were to be ‘seen and not heard’, the death of her father, the love for her son, poems that muse on chemical elements and landscapes. There is also a final, moving section of poems, Fairy Tales and Stepmonsters: about being a stepmother, using the trope of the fairy tale to bring us this story of the difficult role of the stepmother who often doesn’t have a voice in court despite loving and caring for a stepchild, and outlining a difficult year in the life of a couple and a much-cherished child.
This is a compelling set of poems from a striking new voice. Listen below to Ilse reading a poem from the collection.
Reviews for Auscultation
“In this unique and utterly original collection, Ilse Pedler explores the brutal and beautiful world of being a vet and a stepmother. This is a book filled with blood, but also with air and light, a book of hard-won knowledge, a book that is both pragmatic and tender, about listening and being listened to, and the types of care we give and receive.” – Kim Moore – Reviewed on Seren Books
“Listen’, listen closely, these poems ask. Draw near and pay intimate attention to the minute beats and actions that surround and connect us – those of animals, other humans, and the environment. As a practising veterinary surgeon ‘at the warmth’s core’, Pedler explores the daily dramas and dilemmas of the consulting room, the operating theatre, the field, and brings in wider themes of scientific knowledge, family, fairytales, and belonging. The precision in her language matches the precision in her noticing, as we recognise how ‘our bodies are never silent’ and she helps us marvel at ‘the soft persistence of tissue.” – Heidi Williamson – Reviewed on Seren Books