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Christmas Gift Guide: Poetry

  13 Dec '23   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Poetry makes for a lovely thoughtful gift, and we are proud to publish a vibrant selection of beautiful poetry collections from some of the best poets writing today. Check out some of our most recent collections below, and click on the covers to find out more about each.

In Alycia Pirmohamed’s debut collection, Another Way to Split Water, a woman’s body expands and contracts across the page, fog uncoils at the fringes of a forest, and water in all its forms cascades into metaphors of longing and separation just as often as it signals inheritance, revival, and recuperation. Language unfolds into unforgettable and arresting imagery, offering a map toward self-understanding that is deeply rooted in place.

In a moment that is demanding you to constantly choose your side, how do you find your humanity, your own voice, when you are being pushed to find safety in numbers? Blood Salt Spring is a meditation on where we are – exploring ideas of nation, race and belonging. Much of the collection was written in lockdown and speaks to that moment, the isolation and the traumas of 2020 but it also looks to find some meaning and makes an attempt to heal the pain and vulnerabilities that were picked and cut open again in the recent cultural shifts and political wars.

Far Field is the third and final book in The Auchensale Trilogy, a series of poetry cycles capturing the changing rural landscape of the West of Scotland. Following on from its predecessors Black Cart and Bale Fire, the book consists of three cycles bound together by footers. A number of poems in the early part of the book are in response to paintings by the Glasgow Boys particularly those painted during their time spent in agricultural communities.

Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, both suffering from shell shock, were sent to convalesce at Craiglockhart hospital in Edinburgh in 1917. Owen, who referred to himself as the ‘poet’s poet’ was unpublished at the time. It was the influence and encouragement of Sassoon during this period that shaped Owen’s work. Sassoon was also instrumental in publishing Owen’s work posthumously after the war. Here for the first time, collected in a single volume are the poems, written in Edinburgh, of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

Written in English, interspersed with Shetlandic dialect throughout, this eagerly awaited debut collection from Shetland poet Roseanne Watt contains profound, assured and wilfully spare poems that are built from the sight, sound and heartbeat of the land as much as from the sea. In rigorously controlled, concise, and vivid language Watt offers glimpses of the landscape alongside which we find the most complex and mysterious of human experiences.

Iona Lee’s debut collection charts the journey of the writer, artist and performer into adulthood. Written in a unique voice, Iona playfully toys with thematic devices in this entertaining exploration of art and artifice, absence and impermanence, truth and tale telling. Characterised by a deep love of language, its music and its magic, these poems reflect on memory, the future and other hauntings. Wittily observed, this collection is an attempt to connect the stars into tidy constellations, and to join the tiny, inchoate dots of self into something traceable and translatable.

These poems are alive with electricity, pulsating with a frequency that vibrates throughout. In a journey from there to here, The Bone Library examines and interprets all of human life. Throughout the collection Jenni Fagan responds to broader themes of identity, of place, of love and the unloved. Written in the old Dick Vet Bone Library during the author’s time as writer-in-residence there, this is a vivid exploration that is honest and searching and cuts to the very core of what it is to be alive.

This is an exclusive limited edition with a preface by Liz Lochhead and a new introduction by Ali Smith. Liz Lochhead is one of the leading poets writing in Britain today. This, her debut collection, published in 1972, was a landmark publication. Writing at a time when the landscape of Scottish poetry was male dominated, hers was a new voice, tackling subjects that resonated with readers – as it still does. Her poetry paved the way, and inspired, countless new voices including Ali Smith, Kathleen Jamie, Jackie Kay and Carol Ann Duffy.

Oyster is the second collection from prize-winning Edinburgh poet Michael Pedersen. From Grez-sur-Loing and festive nights to sizzling summers stretched out in the Meadows and Portobello, Michael Pedersen’s unique brand of poetry captures a debauchery and a disputation of characters, narrated with an intense honesty and a love of language that is playful, powerful and penetrative; he vividly illuminates scenes with an energy that is both witty, humourous but also deeply intelligent. Oyster is iced, spiced, baked and beaming for your pleasure.

This new collection is a fascinating journey into the heart of each of us – from the author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and the 44 Scotland Street series. In I Think of You, the reader travels through literary Edinburgh in summer, heartbreak in a rain-drenched glen in the Highlands, a voyage on the Argo in Ancient Greece, and from Dallas to Helsinki and home again. Throughout this collection, the author explores various themes of love, kindness and friendship, as well as the philosophy of food, the idiosyncrasies of language and the importance of canonical hours.

In A Handsel, the first new poems from Scotland’s second modern Makar since 2016’s Fugitive Colours, the poet celebrates people and those small momentous moments that encapsulate so much of her work. It is human relationships that sit at the heart of these poems; each one is a beautifully realised snapshot that explores the poet’s past, her friendships and revisits favourite characters from earlier collections. This landmark publication collects for the first time the poetry of Liz Lochhead. Bringing work back into print, this collected poems publishes all of the poet’s collections, presented in their entirety.

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