Stewart Carswell’s intriguing poetry takes the reader on a mysterious journey through a world influenced by the forests and trees of our natural landscape. The poems’ concise descriptions of nature are balanced by an acute awareness of our emotional fragility. A darkly satisfying debut.

Although set for the most part in the enclosed landscapes of his native Forest of Dean, Stewart Carswell’s precise and surprising poems travel at the speed of light to explore the limits of love, loss, and loyalty.

– Deborah Harvey

Read a review of Knots and Branches on Sabotage Reviews.

Sample poems

My gift for you was an acorn.
I told you to plant it
in your garden so you could always be
within reach of a forest.
So you planted it. And with time and rain,
a forest grew around your house.
Fawns graze at your door,
ferns are window frames,

and you are a neighbour
to oak. Observe the seasons
and the lessons they carry.
Collect twigs and moss
and learn to build a nest:
make it hard against the wind
but soft against the skin.
Home should be a place to return to.

Learn when it is time to let go,
and learn how to let go.
Leaves do not fall far.
Don’t be scared to let in new light.
Gather acorns, share them with your children,
and remember how small each beginning is.

Fawns do not stay, but you will find
a set of antlers each year
outside your door. Oak is a marker
for home, and marks the starting point.
Measure time in rings and anniversaries.
Always be within reach of a forest.

I saw your name sunlit above the shop doorway
so naturally I thought about you
making a living here behind the counter,
stocking and selling portions of broccoli,

although I reasoned it could not be your store
and that the name was actually someone else
calling out for you, wanting you to walk in
and talk about more than the weather.


First published in Brittle Star

Light crosses light years to reach us and the stars
appear small and dim from here. As time expands,

the names of school friends recede when the divide
widens from the years we remember them over.

So when I look back I think of my friends
as constellations and see patterns in those distant lights,

connecting together the faint memories of youth
to create a set of stories to navigate by.