Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scottish poet infuses nature and folklore in work.

Scottish Poet Robin Robertson recently became the first poet to win Britain’s Forward Prize in all three categories.  He won  Best First Collection in 1997 with  (A Painted Field), then  Best Collection (Swithering, 2006), and Best Single Poem (“At Roane Head,” 2008). Here is an article on what he is up to at Open Letters Monthly Arts and Literature Review

"...Scottish (Celtic) poetry is identified for its intimacy with nature and folklore. There are many echoes of old Scottish ballads in your most recent collection, Swithering. How has Gaelic/Scottish nature, folklore, music and lyrical tradition influenced your work?

The countryside in which I grew up is very beautiful, with the Highlands to the west and the North Sea to the east, with the lowlands of Aberdeenshire and its barrows and circles and standing stones in between; an unusual blend of Celtic and Pictish culture. We were the wrong side of Scotland for the Gaelic tongue, but there was still, in the late 50s and early 60s, a real and vivid sense of the old gods, the old ways, and many superstitions persisted vestigially. Samhain (Hallowe’en) was celebrated with great enthusiasm and A’Callainn (pagan Hogmanay) was almost more important in the community than Christmas. Meanwhile, my father was a Church of Scotland minister

That’s poetic tension for you.." ...(Cont)...

Here is a link to some of his work including audio files at The Poetry Archive
And here is one of his:

Wedding The Locksmith's Daughter

The slow-grained slide to embed the blade
of the key is a sheathing,
a gliding on graphite, pushing inside
to find the ribs of the lock.

Sunk home, the true key slots into its matrix;
geared, tight-fitting, they turn
together, shooting the spring-lock,
throwing the bolt. Dactyls, iambics —

the clinch of words — the hidden couplings
in the cased machine. A chime of sound
on sound: the way the sung note snibs on meaning

and holds. The lines engage and marry now,
their bells are keeping time;
the church doors close and open underground.