In Oils

Reddick, Yvonne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7869-7560 (2019) In Oils. South Bank Poetry, 31 . pp. 30-32.

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The oil industry is largely absent from UK poetry. It is a surprising omission, since oil creates everything from the petroleum-based ink we write with to climate breakdown. This sequence of poems develops new methods for writing about oil in local and international contexts.
The author's father was a petroleum engineer, working first on the North Sea oil platforms and later taking his family to live in Kuwait City. Memories and family history are combined with research on eyewitness accounts of the Gulf War to construct narratives of petroleum-related prosperity and conflict. Fire and melting ice are used as metaphors for oil-fuelled climate change. Both the sonnet form and the first-person lyric perspective break down during a time of intense fossil fuel conflict: the first Gulf War of 1991.
The reason so few writers in the UK engage overtly with oil is that most UK oil extraction has been done offshore; offshore aspects of the industry remain largely unseen (Macdonald 2012). This series of poems is informed by research on 'petroculture' conducted for the author's article 'Palm Oil and Crude Oil'. 'In Oils' joins the handful of poems by British poets (Michael McKimm 2013, Carol Ann Duffy 2015) that tackle the oil industry explicitly.

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