Friday, July 21, 2006

Robin Robertson

Thanks to my good friend Carol and the Canadian poetry journal Arc, I recently discovered Scottish poet Robin Robertson. Arc is running a series of "introductions" as part of a Scottish-Canadian poetry exchange, and Robertson is the July feature. This is a fine, well-written introduction to his work, but Carol, who is an extraordinarily insightful reader of poetry, has also contributed a fine post on Robertson on her blog.

The Arc article mention's Robertson's poem "Wedding the Locksmith's Daughter", which is a wonderfully musical, dark and erotic love poem. But I guess to describe it as a mere "love poem" is to do it an injustice (even though I have always felt that love, viewed by so many as an inappropriate topic for the modern poet, is still the purest motivation for poetry I can think of), since the poem works on so many levels: the physicality of erotic love; the perfect, complementary mesh of two minds ("Sunk home, the true key slots into its matrix"); the ecstasy of text and music finding their perfect matches ("the the way the sung note snibs on meaning/ and holds"); how the lines of a poem can fit together with such ease to produce such a rich picture (Dactyls, iambics —/ the clinch of words — the hidden couplings/ in the cased machine").

I need to get ahold of Robertson's books and study them. Here is a poet who, in the few poems that I have read, speaks to me in a way that I have only experienced with writers like Robert Frost, Elisabeth Bishop and Jane Kenyon.

Thanks Carol!

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1 comment:

Carol said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the nod. John Banville's review of Robertson in the July 13th New York Review of Books is a knock-out. Try it!