spm publications logoSHOP  f  t

Home   About   AUTHORS   COMPETITIONS  Submissions   NEWS   SHOP


MOCK ORANGE by ANNE OSBOURN  | SPM Publications, Poetry

Third Prize Winner, Sentinel Poetry Book Competition 2018


Mock orange front cover ppMock Orange is a collection of poems in which Anne Osbourn attempts to order her life and her origins and to try to understand how and why she became a scientist, specifically a plant biologist. From early childhood she has tried to make sense of the world through plants. In mid-eighteenth century Sweden Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, spent his life trying to understand his Maker through the classification of plants. Osbourn’s poetry encompasses Linnaeus’s adventures and experiences and his fascination with living things. Mock Orange is therefore about journeys from origins, both personal and global, in which negotiations between scientific and non-scientific languages and points of view form a central theme. 


In stock

UK - £7.00 + £2.99 P&P

Europe - £7.00 + £3.99 P&P

Rest of the World - £7.00 + £5.99 P&P

Delivery times (business days): 7 days (UK), 14 Days (Europe), 28 days (Rest of the World)

Mock Orange by Anne Osbourn

                                                            Mock Orange is also available from the Amazon Global Store. 

Many of the poems in Mock Orange are quite light in tone, with wit a more frequent driver than profundity. That's a hugely desirable quality for it's too rarely found in contemporary poetry, which often takes itself too seriously. An unusually wide variety of forms and approaches are adopted in this collection, creating a rather eclectic voice, which includes the prose poem, the found poem and unusual formats. In Mock Orange, it's clear that Osbourn aims to push boundaries and, in doing so, offer a very varied poetic experience. Whether serious or light, whether unusual or conventional in form, these poems are always very well crafted, whilst the poet is not content with mere cleverness, but perfectly able to achieve quite affecting emotional impacts, too.

- Noel Williams

These poems fuse a plant biologist's and a poet's sense of wonder. Her lens is particularly clear, the observations acute and the imagination fully alive. A distinctive and necessary collection from Anne Osbourn.

- Moniza Alvi

Osbourn combines playful intelligence with a scientist's eye for precision in language and image. Her acute observations of the natural world inform her explorations of our desire to find our place(s) within it. In poems about heritage, landscape, language and scientific history, she by turns entertains, informs, expands and focuses our attention.

- Heidi Williamson

These poems made even this curmudgeon smile. And reflect.

- Professor Sir David Baulcombe FRS


Woburn Abbey – April 1939


Things are degenerating:

the collection has something to say.


Mirabilis likes being kept

pressed between the pages of a book

she says she’s reading.

Bog rosemary is ashamed on her behalf.


Tillandsia, still shaken by the voyage in 1784

has become withdrawn,  mildewed. 


The peonies keep showing themselves.

The grasses are loose,

the mosses are low.


The violets call a meeting, but

are overrun by wild strawberries.

The wallflowers sulk in a corner,

the daisies have made a chain.

Somewhere in the darkness

of a herbarium drawer

an orange is kissing

an apple to the core.


Dead nettle, surprised, stings. 

Aspen trembles, poplar shivers, willows cry.

Ragwort worries. It is mock orange

who saves the day. 

She gathers them under

her blossomed boughs, draws them close,

to her scented middle, settles

them down and says:


Now – let me tell you a story…


To Linnaeus


I have had the pleasure of reading your Species Plantarum,

            a very useful and laborious work.

But, my dear friend, we that admire you are much concerned

            that you should perplex the delightful science of Botany

with changing names that have been well-received,

            and adding new ones quite unknown to us.

Thus Botany, which was a pleasant study

            attainable by most men

is now become, by alteration and new names,

           the study of a man’s life

and now none but real professors

           can pretend to attain to it.


As I love you, I tell you our sentiments.




Letter from Peter Collinson to Linnaeus – London, April 20th 1754

Product details

Paperback : 72 pages

ISBN-10 : 1916226329

ISBN-13 : 978-1916226326

Product Dimensions : 15.19 x 0.48 x 22.91cm

Publisher : SPM Publications (30 Sept. 2020)

Language: : English


Book Design by Nnorom Azuonye

Front Cover Design – Kaarin Wall



©2020 SPM Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. Registered address: 120 Warland Road, London SE18 2ET, United Kingdom. Registered in England & Wales. Company Number 10295472. Privacy Policy  Terms & Conditions