Robin Robertson

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UK | 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015

Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland and now lives in London. His poetry appears regularly in the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books and is represented in many anthologies. Published in Britain by Picador, in the US by Harcourt, and in Italy by Guanda, A Painted Field won the 1997 Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and the Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year Award. His second collection, Slow Air, appeared in 2002. The following year he edited Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame, which collects seventy commissioned pieces by international authors. In 2004 he received the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His third collection, Swithering, won the Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award and the 2006 Forward Prize for Best Collection. His first visit to Santa Maddalena was in 2003 and he returned in 2008.


Report 2007

This was a gift for someone who cannot write where he lives, where he earns his living. To be offered a long line of silence and solitude with the punctuation of kindness and care and hospitality, to live for a while amongst so much that is beautiful and loved: this was a gift.

Report 2008

Cat, Failing

A figment, a thumbed
maquette of a cat, some
ditched plaything, something
brought in from outside:
his white fur stiff and grey,
coming apart at the seams.
I study the muzzle
of perished rubber, one ear
eaten away, his sour body
lumped like a bean-bag
leaking thinly
into a grim towel. I sit
and watch the light
degrade in his eyes.

He tries and fails
to climb to his chair, shirks
in one corner of the kitchen,
cowed, denatured, ceasing to be
anything like a cat,
and there’s a new look
in those eyes
that refuse to meet mine
and it’s the shame of being
found out. Just that.
And with that
loss of face
his face, I see,
has turned human.

Robin Robertson