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Edges. James Aitchison Paperback ISBN 978-1-869848-27-9, £6.50. 1 December 2020

Edges is a new collection of poems written since Learning How to Sing was published by Mica Press in 2018. James Aitchison’s departure points are the suffering, errors, and monsters that might be ourselves, and he faces nature and humanity in language that has emotional energy. Sensitive to technological interventions in wild places, he writes with sympathy and anger for disappearing birds and animals, while devoting himself to the cultivation of fruits and flowers. He rescues instructive memories from personal sources that range from observations made long ago, through dream images of middle life, to the perceptions of older age. If we agree with William Carlos Williams that ‘Memory is a kind of accomplishment’, we might think too that James Aitchison, keeping to one memory per poem, achieves sound sense and vigorous conclusions. The poems in Edgeswill make many readers grateful, thoughtful, and ready for more.

From the publication of Brain Scans in 1988 to that of The Gates of Light in 2016, the life and nature of the mind have been recurring subjects in James Aitchison’s poetry. In this ample new collection his poems on that theme are subtle, sometimes disturbing and, in the poems on his own mental states, darkly humorous.

Edges, like all Aitchison’s previous collections, shows his respect for language and love for the craft of poetry.

James Aitchison, author of New Guide to Poetry and Poetics (Rodopi Editions, 2013), The Golden Harvester: the Vision of Edwin Muir (Aberdeen University Press, 1988) and The Cassell Dictionary of English Grammar (Cassell, 1996), as well as six previous poetry collections, was born in Stirlingshire in 1938 and educated at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities. In the 1960s he worked as a publicity copywriter at The Scotsman Publications in Edinburgh, after which he held a series of minor posts in Scottish colleges and universities. He and his wife lived in Gloucestershire for five years and returned to Stirlingshire in 2007. James Aitchison is a former poetry critic at The Scotsman and The (Glasgow) Herald.

 

 

 
Interested in History as well as Poetry? See this publisher's other imprint, Campanula Books