Kathleen Jamie

b. 1962

Kathleen Jamie was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009.

As I write this (in July 2015) I’ve just signed off the page proofs for a new book of poems, The Bonniest Companie, but had to call them back after a well-wisher pointed out an absolute howler of a typo. So much for my attentive reading! The book consists in 45 or so loose-limbed pieces, written roughly one a week throughout last year. They are much less highly-wrought than my usual, more free and energised. I was going with the flow and feeling liberated. There’s much about the natural world, memory, mortality, the future. The usual poetic concerns, I suppose.  I enjoyed writing them. Relax, I told myself. It’s only poetry.

Reading:  more by accident than design I seem to be re-reading some of the wonderstuff I discovered in my teens – and wondering if I actually read these books at all, back then, or just carried them around in the pocket of my duffle coat. For example,  last month, in the Oxfam Bookshop in Glasgow, I found a first edition of Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, and snapped it up. ‘ On my naming day when I come 12 I gone to front spear and kilt a wyld boar…’  Then, at a friend’s house I picked up his tatty and mildewed copy of Rilke’s Duino Elegies, in David Young’s translation. I have my own tatty and mildewed copy of this book, but re-reading it in the attic room at my friend’s was extra piquant: ‘If I cried out/ who would hear me up there/ among the angelic orders?’  And then, on the long train journey home, I re-read Joyce’s ‘The Dead’  ‘Lily, the caretaker’s daughter, was literally run off her feet.’  I’d vaguely remembered this as a story about an old-fashioned party, but I understand now just how brilliant it is.

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