14 Amazing Scottish Poetry Books of 2017
It was a year of ups and downs for Scottish poetry. On the plus side, 2017 marked the return of a Scottish great, Douglas Dunn, with his first collection, The Noise of a Fly (Faber), in 17 years. Its worth was quickly rewarded with a place on the T.S Eliot Prize shortlist. We were sad to see Christine De Luca stand down as Edinburgh Makar after five vigorous and memorable years chronicling the capital – and delighted that the next Edinburgh Makar will be none other than Alan Spence. We look forward to seeing what he does with the role.
Talking of Makars, Jackie Kay, the National Poet for Scotland, completed her first full year in the role, a year in which she has travelled the country and penned poems to mark the opening of the Queensferry Crossing, the re-opening of Parliament, and to raise awareness of homelessness, plus a poem specially written to be included in the Scottish Government’s baby boxes, a lovely recognition by Holyrood that poetry matters. Kay also penned a suite of poems commemorating the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s transformative time in Edinburgh in 1917. My poetry wish for 2018 is that they’re published in some form; the poems were wonderfully moving and a great tribute to Owen and Craiglockhart whose military hospital treated his shellshock.
We were sad to see publisher Freight struggle, not least because they had on their books some fantastic poets – Jim Carruth, Rachel McCrum, Harry Giles, Russell Jones – but we hope and trust the poets affected will find new homes for their work next year.
Still Life with Feeding Snake, John Burnside (Jonathan Cape)
Black Cart, Jim Carruth (Freight)
Farm by the Shore, Thomas A. Clark (Carcanet Press)
The Noise of a Fly, Douglas Dunn (Faber & Faber)
Bantam, Jackie Kay (Picador)
Twist, Pippa Little (Arc Publications)
An Leabhar Liath or The Light Blue Book: 500 Years of Gaelic Love and Transgressive Verse, eds. Peter MacKay and Iain MacPherson (Luath)
Madame Ecosse, Marion McCready (Eyewear Publishing)
The First Blast to Awaken Women Degenerate, Rachel McCrum (Freight)
Oyster, Michael Pedersen, illustrated by Scott Hutchison (Polygon Books)
Moon for Sale, Richard Price (Carcanet Press)
After Economy, J.L. Williams (Shearsman Books)