Book Reviews

The Bonniest Companie by Kathleen Jamie


What da cover says:  In her extraordinary new collection, Kathleen Jamie examines her native Scotland – a country at once wild and contained, rural and urban – and her place within it. In the author’s own words : ‘2014 was a year of tremendous energy in my native Scotland, and knowing I wanted to embrace that energy and participate in my own way, I resolved to write a poem a week, and follow the cycle of the year.’ The poems also venture into childhood and family memory – and look to ahead to the future. The Bonniest Company is visionary response to a year shaped and charged by both local and global forces, and will stand as a remarkable document of our times.

What I says:  First off, what a cover! You could lose yourself gazing into that.  Kathleen Jamie is one of my all time favourite writers, there is something about her words that just grabs me, it might be her ability to include a Scottish accent that adds another dimension to the writing, using words like “keek” and “wanchancy” are brilliant.  It doesn’t matter what she writes about, cleaning whale bones, walking on the beach or geese in flight, it just works and the mundane becomes amazing.

The Bonniest Companie is a fine collection, I’m not gonna spoil things and go on and on about what the poems are about, you’ve really gotta read them yourself just to get that full experience.  Check her out on Soundcloud to hear her reading a few poems.  Below is one of my favourites from this book.

Thon Stane

Thon earthfast boulder by the bothy door,

Taller than a man and

thrice as broad and

older than everyone put together-

stood there in his mossy boots

like he’s just this very forenoon

wandered down the brae-

a chapman peddling bracken-besoms,


a few lampwicks of grass-

I open the door, though he gives no hawker’s cry-

just proffers his mute wares,

as he has for long enough.



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