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The Bonniest Companie by Kathleen Jamie
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The Bonniest Companie

by Kathleen Jamie

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292574,071 (4.25)2
In her extraordinary new collection, Kathleen Jamie examines her native Scotland - a country at once wild and contained, rural and urban - and her place within it. In the author's own words : "2014 was a year of tremendous energy in my native Scotland, and knowing I wanted to embrace that energy and participate in my own way, I resolved to write a poem a week, and follow the cycle of the year." The poems also venture into childhood and family memory - and look to ahead to the future. The Bonniest Company is visionary response to a year shaped and charged by both local and global forces, and will stand as a remarkable document of our times.… (more)

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This, Jamie’s latest book of poetry, won the Saltire Society Book of the Year Award for 2016.

There are 47 poems here of which only two stretch over 1 page in length. Most take the form, if not the formal structure, of a sonnet, though Soledades has eight lines of what look like prose before opening out in its last three lines. Some are very short indeed. The last, Gale, has only 16 syllables, shorter than a haiku. The longest, Another You, bears out the potency of cheap music, the titular deer in The Hinds are “the bonniest companie”. Ben Lomond refers to the bonny banks in a poem which, like the song containing those lines, is about death and remembrance. 23/9/14 is an injunction to gird up again after the Scottish Independence Referendum. High Water compares ocean tides to an adulterous affair, Scotland’s Splendour scopes out the delights of memories from a book stumbled on in a charity shop, Wings Over Scotland is a litany of the recorded deaths of birds of prey on various landed estates, taken - verbatim it would seem - from the original reports.

The language Jamie uses goes from standard English to various degrees of Scots depending on the poem. Migratory II, (eftir Hölderlin) is the most uncompromisingly Scottish. The prevalence of poems about animals or landscape places Jamie’s poetry firmly within the tradition of Scottish literature. ( )
  jackdeighton | Feb 9, 2017 |
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