by Marion Starling Boyer
Michigan State University Press, 2023
Paper: 978-1-61186-449-6 | eISBN: 978-1-62896-487-5

Ice Hours is a suite of poems set in majestic and severe Antarctica, chronicling the nearly forgotten story of the Ross Sea party. Weaving historical and scientific research into lilting verse, Marion Starling Boyer follows the adventurers who sailed on the Aurora at the beginning of World War I to support Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914–1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. These poems reveal the characters of the explorers and the conflicts they faced during the two years they labored to lay a chain of supply depots across the ice, unaware that Shackleton would never come because his ship, the Endurance, sank on the opposite side of the continent. The Ross Sea men battled frozen wastelands, scurvy, snow-blindness, starvation, hypothermia, and frostbite while their ship, the Aurora, was ice-trapped, marooning them without vital equipment, clothing, fuel, and food. Through lyric and formal poetic forms, Ice Hours brings to life the close of a heroic period interwoven with the brooding voice of the Antarctic continent, evoking themes of what occurs when humanity engages with the sublime.

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