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Robin Robertson, Sailing the Forest – review

Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems by Robin Robertson, Picador, £20 (hardback), £14.99 (paperback).

Sailing the Forest brings together poems from five separate collections. It’s a body of work that’s been both highly varied and remarkably coherent from the beginning. Robertson has always been exceptionally good at and interested in evoking place and the atmosphere of places. He’s always been intensely interested in myth and folklore, and he’s always been haunted by the cruelty of men and nature, by loneliness, pain and loss, and by the idea of something missing or broken in the self. The depth of these preoccupations gives the … Continue Reading

Robin Robertson, Hill of Doors, 96 pp, £9.99 paperback, Picador.

Hill of Doors is packed with fine individual poems, highly varied in form, theme and style, though continually picking up motifs familiar from Robertson’s earlier work.  Contrasts of landscape heighten the sense of imaginative range. Scottish settings full of water and mist are opposed by luminous Mediterranean scenes and by the barren desert of “Wire”, an outstanding haiku sequence set on the Mexican – US border. These settings draw the poems together, both by similarity and contrast. As different strands develop, they’re often associated with different kinds of landscape. There’s a Christian strand, starting with a lovely meditation on Fra … Continue Reading