Weaving connections everywhere
I can only concur with the praise heaped on Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie. This is writing about the natural world of a very high order indeed, engaging with beautiful and precise descriptions of what she sees and experiences in a very satisfying way, but, even more pertinently, taking off into other philosophical and thoughtful areas. It is far more than beautiful descriptive prose about birds wheeling against the skyline or the majestic loneliness of mountains against the horizon.
So, for example, one essay about gannets on a gannetry beyond the Shetlands, has her musing (this being a nursery after all) about her own children, and the different relationships between mother and child in other species.
Another, highly unusual ‘natural world’ examination, is under the lens of a microscope, looking at tumours in biopsies, and at Helicobacter. She equates this microscopic world to the known world of landscape, seeing inlets, sandbanks, gullies, and bacteria like ‘musk oxen on tundra,seen from far above’ Pastoral bacteria, feeding on the gorgeous turf of stomach lining. And, for me, that heart stopping sentence in this essay:
That’s the deal: if we are to be alive and available for joy and discovery, then it’s as an animal body, available for cancer and infection and pain
Whether it is the delights of cleaning a long dead whale’s ribs with a toothbrush (!) or going into the earth as if walking inside its body, to visit Paleolithic cave paintings, Jamie is thoughtful, and thought provoking
She embraces the obviously poetic and the mundane, and, like a true poet, sees the poetry in the mundane, using language which is the antithesis of the fey. This is nature writing which engages with the viscera and with sinew
I now have her earlier work, Findings, waiting to be read
I originally received this as an ARC from the Amazon Vine Programme UK
Sightlines Amazon UK
Sightlines Amazon USA
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