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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)