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A Lone Enraptured Male

Kathleen Jamie: The Cult of the Wild, 6 March 2008

The Wild Places 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Granta, 340 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 1 86207 941 0
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... A situation has arisen on Ben Nevis. I don’t mean a rescue, although as it happens the RAF and mountain rescue teams are bringing down a man and two boys who, the report says, ‘didn’t read the weather forecast’. The situation I have in mind has also arisen on Snowdon and Scafell, and it concerns the dead. Apparently, the biggest hills are covered in so many memorials – plaques and little cairns – that it’s becoming an issue ...


Kathleen Jamie: Counting the Cobwebs, 6 June 2002

... Under the gutter of our house are many cobwebs, each attached at a slightly different angle to the wall. It’s an east-facing wall, so on sunny mornings the cobwebs are alight. A whole quarter of cobwebs, like an Eastern bazaar or a medieval marketplace with all the cobblers, all the spice sellers, all the drapers together in the same alley. The biggest measured about a handspan and a half ...


Kathleen Jamie: In the West Highlands, 14 July 2011

... the book’s hold. It wasn’t just the guns but the increasing number of accidents. How much time Kathleen Raine spent at Sandaig is also unknown, because she threw her diaries into a river, and when he came to write his book, Maxwell excised her, though ‘ring of bright water’ was her line – the most famous one she ever wrote. Her poem, without a title ...


Kathleen Jamie: Gannets, Whaups, Skuas, 7 August 2003

... I hacked off the gannet’s head with my penknife, which turned out to be one of those jobs you wish you’d never started. It was a Swiss Army knife, with a blade only two inches long, and a diving gannet can enter the water at ninety miles an hour: they have strong necks. It was early morning, low tide, and I was glad to have the beach to myself. When the head was at last free, I rolled the body with my foot ...

Into the Dark

Kathleen Jamie: A Winter Solstice, 18 December 2003

... Mid-December. It was eight in the morning and Venus was hanging like a wrecker’s light above the Black Craig. The hill itself – seen from our kitchen window – was still in silhouette, though the sky was lightening to a pale yellow-grey. It was a weakling light, stealing into the world like a thief through a window someone forgot to close. The talk was all of Christmas shopping and children’s parties ...

Two Poems

Sarah Maguire, 10 July 2003

... For Kathleen Jamie Waist-height, clouds of white lace in the abandoned graveyard, the delicate, filigree umbels matching the thumbprints of lichen embroidering the graves. A deep current of blue surges below – bluebells, moments of sky fallen, brief weather fixed on wet stems, conjuring a climate gone from this chill April dusk, as rain comes, and light fades ...

After the Referendum

LRB Contributors, 9 October 2014

... their true maturity … Let’s just say I’m keeping my ‘Yes’ badge safe in the button tin. Kathleen Jamie Project Fear​ has had a temporary victory in Scotland but its legacy will not be a return to the status quo ante either in Scotland or elsewhere. The mind of the Scottish nation has stirred to new activity. Every single parliamentary ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... preoccupied by gender. It is a theme crucial equally to Duncan McLean’s novel Bunker Man and to Kathleen Jamie’s poetry collection The Queen of Sheba. It is insistent in W.N. Herbert’s poem ‘Featherhood’ and Janice Galloway’s Foreign Parts. It bridges writing as different as the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and ...


James Wood, 5 August 1993

The New Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... very little; it’s easy play. Before, I wonder how you will be. Will you feel like talking about Kathleen or the babies? It is like listening to one half of a telephone conversation. When not chatting, Clary tends to declaim: ‘I was born into my skin and its future, the planet and its promise or demise. Each day a similar sun, the almost predictable moods ...

Drinking and Spewing

Sally Mapstone: The Variousness of Robert Fergusson, 25 September 2003

‘Heaven-Taught Fergusson’: Robert Burns’s Favourite Scottish Poet 
edited by Robert Crawford.
Tuckwell, 240 pp., £14.99, August 2002, 1 86232 201 5
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... The essays in ‘Heaven-Taught Fergusson’ are interspersed with poems on him by, among others, Kathleen Jamie, Edwin Morgan and Les Murray. This is an elegant echo of Ruddiman’s Weekly Magazine, in which many of Fergusson’s poems first appeared, and where verse was juxtaposed with essays, articles and correspondence. Fergusson is much admired by ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... much of whose work Watson’s polyglot anthology is so in tune? They’re missing entirely – no Kathleen Jamie or W.N. Herbert or Don Paterson. Liz Lochhead is the only poet under the age of 50 to be included. The youngest Gaelic poet here is nearly 70. The forked tongues of the newer Scottish poets have been brutally chopped. Watson is strongest in ...

Sperm’s-Eye View

Robert Crawford, 23 February 1995

Dock Leaves 
by Hugo Williams.
Faber, 67 pp., £6.99, June 1994, 0 571 17175 3
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Spring Forest 
by Geoffrey Lehmann.
Faber, 171 pp., £6.99, September 1994, 0 571 17246 6
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Everything is Strange 
by Frank Kuppner.
Carcanet, 78 pp., £8.95, July 1994, 1 85754 071 9
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The Queen of Sheba 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £6.95, April 1994, 1 85224 284 1
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... childless person sits at a table writing, Not far away from a picture of colossal stellar clouds. Kathleen Jamie’s The Queen of Sheba has been shortlisted for so many prizes that it must be one of the most widely appealing recent volumes of poetry. From a narrower, but longer perspective, it is the best individual collection written by a woman in ...

Watermonster Blues

William Wootten: Edwin Morgan, 18 November 2004

Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity 
by Colin Nicholson.
Manchester, 216 pp., £40, October 2002, 0 7190 6360 4
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translated by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 118 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 588 5
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by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 617 2
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... little anxiety in the younger poets, such as Robert Crawford, Liz Lochead, W.N. Herbert, Kathleen Jamie and Jackie Kay, who have learned from him. In Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity, Colin Nicholson tries to account for his many-sided subject by examining him facet by facet, but the result is rather less than the sum of its (sometimes ...

So Much More Handsome

Matthew Reynolds: Don Paterson, 4 March 2004

Landing Light 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 84 pp., £12.99, September 2003, 0 571 21993 4
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... sang alone’ but ‘the sang’ printed and subjected to interpretive necessity. In a book by Kathleen Jamie, say, Scots and English form an expressive continuum; here the Scots is walled off and made to stand for a spontaneity and simplicity which, though registered by the predominantly English pages, cannot be fully admitted into them. And then ...

A Novel without a Hero

Christopher Ricks, 6 December 1979

The Mangan Inheritance 
by Brian Moore.
Cape, 336 pp., £5.50
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... Jamie Mangan, left at 36 by his wife and then suddenly left all her money, takes it into his heart to go off from New York to Ireland to find out whether or not he is the great-great-grandson of the poet James Clarence Mangan. Jamie’s father had once halfheartedly tried this, but he wasn’t prey to a sufficiently insatiable hunger for the quest ...

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