Bones & Breath

Dr Alexander Hutchison author


Publisher:Salt Publishing

Published:27th Nov '13


Available to order, but very limited on stock - if we have issues obtaining a copy, we will let you know.

Bones & Breath cover

My desert island suitcase contains the poems of Alexander Hutchison. The lyricism; the quizzical explorations which land happily upon the mysterious and stay there; the lively metaphysics; the poems in Scots which extend and light up the language while still sounding like a real person talking in real space; the generosity of tone and judgement; the friendly nudge; the frisk; the finesse: all these qualities make them essential reading. -- A.B. Jackson I love these poems: conversational, incantatory, thrawn, at once international and profoundly Scottish ... wide-awake ... always surprising, swerving from dark seriousness to playfulness. Demotic, direct, subtle: the real deal. Treat yourself! Treat yourself. -- Andrew Greig

People want pleasure from poetry, and in Bones & Breath, this masterly new collection from Alexander Hutchison, they can find it in many forms and registers. Power and beauty, mischief and humour. Longer poems mix satire with tender affection. Others offer everything from solar loops to red-throated divers.

Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of The Year Award Winner 2014

People want pleasure from poetry, and in Bones & Breath – this masterly collection from Alexander Hutchison – they will find it in many forms and registers. Power and beauty, mischief and humour. Longer poems mix satire with tender affection. Others offer everything from solar loops to red-throated divers.

The opening section of the book provides a scattering of poems in shorter forms, characteristically “elegant, humourous and deft by turns” as David Kinloch described elements of earlier work, and it contains several striking pieces, such as “Gavia Stellata” (“smallest/and brightest/and speckled/with stars”), a sharp catalogue of uncustomary characters in “Tabouleh” – and the informative and affecting “Parable of the Willow”.

A longer piece in several short parts – “Camp Four” – is picked out next, where satire and wry speculation are combined, and in a typical positive twist at the end we get not only a hint to sort out what has gone before, but the possibility of something “reverberant/resounding”.

Section 3 opens with “Out of Magma: the Moon, a Witness” a beautiful and startling account of something that happened on the slopes of Etna one winter recently – never to be forgotten by the observer, and surely affecting us all. There are, too, here several poems in Scots: building on a welcome extended in “Aye, Plenty, an Mair” in the opening section of the book. These are riddling, droll, foul, inventive and hilarious by turns, and the mix of native, demotic speech and sophisticated fancy takes us up and down some strange wynds and byways.

There is also a longer sequence, “Matter and Moisture”, which sets out a view of the world – even proffering advice – in a fashion that is mischievous, focussed and beguiling all at once.

Rounding things out in Section 3 are “Tod” – where a fox heads with real purpose into one of the Galleries off the Mound in Edinburgh – and “Everything” – a poem...

Charms, incantations, classic satire, contemplation, bawdiness – rumbustious here, elegiac there – Hutchison is a poet of depth, range and magic.

-- Richard Price

Has the ferocity, indignation and bite of the old flytings, even the mad word-hoard of the Admirable Urquhart of Cromarty; a Scots Martial, but with the unabashed tenderness and exactitude of John Clare describing water lilies or Gerhard in his Herbal, on the subject of the Wild Chervil. A mentor, a bristling master, and a total original.

-- August Kleinzahler

I have long been an admirer of the work of Alexander Hutchison in whose company it is always a pleasure and a privilege to spend a few hours. In his latest collection, Bones & Breath, he moves adeptly and inventively between Scots and English. His interests are wide-ranging and at times he can have you scurrying to the dictionary as in 24 and 26 to Be Precise ("Polycyclic aromatics/ (like diesel engine fug)/ are hydrocarbon ancestry/ for bird and boar and bug"). But you never feel he is a mere clever dick. On the contrary, one senses he is restlessly curious and views the world with the wonder of a child.

-- John Burnside * The Hera

  • Winner of The Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year Award 2014 (UK)

ISBN: 9781844719709

Dimensions: 203mm x 127mm x 14mm

Weight: unknown

96 pages