A Painted Field
In these forty-two poems, Robin Robertson demonstrates a range of style and concerns, in a voice utterly original. Whether he is rendering a dramatic new version of Ovid ("The Flaying of Marsyas"), celebrating the ambiguous pleasures of food ("Artichoke"), or considering a British soldier's presence on Irish soil ("Jack-in-the-Green"), Robertson's poetry is always lucid, sensuous, and compelling. Here are poems that speak of the wounds of memory, the implacable coupling of desire and loss, the fugitive nature of things. The collection ends with "Camera Obscura, " an extended poetry cycle. Here Robertson counterpoints the imagined diary of the pioneering Victorian photographer David Octavius Hill with a contemporary poetic narrative of Edinburgh to portray a life in crisis and the last flowering of the Scottish Enlightenment.
‘A superb debut . . . darkly chiselled poems haunted by mortality and the fragility of life’s pleasures’ Kazuo Ishiguro, Sunday Times Books of the Year
‘The best new poet in Britain is Robin Robertson’ Andrew O’Hagan, Independent on Sunday Books of the Year
‘A poetic voice of quiet yet charged maturity: lyrical and complex, transparent and gravid, it can treat both the public theme and the intensely personal with the same serenely wrought fire’ William Boyd, Scotsman Books of the Year
‘Robin Robertson is a master of the poetic line; this is wonderful work, at once muscular and delicate, ringing with a plangent, bitter music. A marvellous debut’ John Banville