Selected Poems

Kathleen Jamie

Last December I found myself with time to kill in Edinburgh. I sought out the Scottish Poetry Library. A low doorway opened into a light filled space where shelves of poems waited. There was an atmosphere of communion, of wholeness and freedom. I picked up Kathleen Jamie’s collection. It’s range continues to delight me. From Hand Relief and the girl who ‘touched your knee’ to the ‘fluttering bird’ in the tender Ultrasound.

The poems are taken from eight collections, inviting the reader to explore Jamie’s the changes in theme and tone and the issues she has addressed. The majority are in standard English, but there are gems such as Selchs and Hame in Scots.

There are wild places at the edge and history from the ancient in The Well at the Broch of Gurness to the modern Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead. Whether it is a civic amenity site or a windswept shore Jamie finds inspiration and tunes her attention to the particular details of the moment. This collection is a rich story of life within and life all around. It is an inspiration to giving attention to detail and seeking personal creative response.

The poems are: diary, litany, love letter, protest and song. Jamie has a rich relationship with words and wild places and this is her Scotland and her gift.

Kathleen Jamie, Selected Poems, review, Gabrielle Barnby

Gabrielle Barnby