The Wrecking Light
Written by Robin Robertson
Publication Date October 02, 2010
Robin Robertson's fourth collection is, if anything, an even more intense, moving, bleakly lyrical, and at times shocking book than Swithering, winner of the Forward Poetry Prize. These poems are written with the authority of classical myth, yet sound utterly contemporary: the poet's gaze -- whether on the natural world or the details of his own life -- is unflinching and clear, its utter seriousness leavened by a wry, dry and disarming humour.
Alongside fine translations from Pablo Neruda and Eugenio Montale and dynamic (and at times horrific) retellings of stories from Ovid, the poems in The Wrecking Light pitch the power and wonder of nature against the frailty and failure of the human. Ghosts sift through these poems -- certainties become volatile, the simplest situations thicken with strangeness and threat -- all of them haunted by the pressure and presence of the primitive world against our own, and the kind of dream-like intensity of description that has become Robertson's trademark.
The Wrecking Light is a work of considerable grandeur and sweep, and confirms Robertson as one of the most arresting and powerful poets at work today.
Robin Robertson is from the northeast coast of Scotland and now lives in London. His first collection of poems, A Painted Field, won numerous awards, including the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection and the Scottish First Book of the Year Award. His second collection, Slow Air, appeared in 2002, his third, Swithering, won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection and was a finalist for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and his fourth, The Wrecking Light, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, the Costa Poetry Award, and the Forward Poetry Prize. His work appears regularly in the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, and The Times Literary Supplement. In 2004 he received the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in London.
"Drawing on both Greco-Roman myth and Scottish folklore, Robertson is somehow able to invoke both antlered men and selkies and have it all make perfect -- albeit bloody -- sense." Winnipeg Free Press
"... extraordinary ... [a] somber, beautiful collection ..." LA Times