Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Sailing the Forest

Sailing the Forest

Selected Poems

Robin Robertson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



A selection of poems spanning the career of a poet of the uncanny
Filled with haunting and visionary poems, Sailing the Forest is a selection of the finest work from an essential voice in contemporary poetry. Robin Robertson's deceptively spare and mythically charged work is beautifully brutal, ancient and immediate, and capable of instilling menace and awe into our everyday landscape. These are poems drawn in shadow, tinged with salt and blood, that disarm the reader with their precise language and dreamlike illuminations. Robertson's unique world is a place of forked storms where "Rain . . . is silence turned up high" and we can see "the hay marry the fire / and the fire walk."
Through five extraordinary collections, Robertson has captured the intangible, illusory world in razor-sharp language. "The genius of this Scots poet is for finding the sensually charged moment—in a raked northern seascape, in a sexual or gustatory encounter—and depicting it in language that is simultaneously spare and ample, and reminiscent of early Heaney or Hughes" (The New Yorker). Sailing the Forest reveals a wild-hearted poet at the height of his talents.

The Economist Magazine Books of the Year


Praise for Sailing the Forest

“Trysts abound in Sailing the Forest, the first career-spanning gathering of poems from one of the most intriguing literary voices in Scotland . . . Robertson hasn't yet crossed over into the realm of mainstream adoration that Ireland's Seamus Heaney enjoyed among American readers, but that's probably only a matter of time . . . To put it bluntly, he writes lines that you want to read again and again.” —Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times Book Review

“During the first dark days of the year, and even now as the blue predawn light slinks in a little earlier each morning, I've been savoring Robin Robertson's haunting collection. These poems are sonically rich, studded with wordplay and flickering light. Because Robertson's Scottish, he's got materials we newfangled Americans only envy. He writes about selkies, who are Celtic shape-changers; dwayberries, a kind of deadly nightshade. And like Proteus himself, he can casually remake Ovid's stories in Scottish villages that already seem older than Rome.” —Tess Taylor, NPR

“Robin Robertson's Sailing the Forest is richly coloured and dense with archetypes. At nearly 200 pages, this generous selection of poems is a great introduction for anyone who believes contemporary poetry has lost its archaic power. Here are ballads, elegies, and legends that read like rites. Even if you've already discovered Robertson's dark music, this is a handsome edition to own.” —Fiona Sampson, The Independent Books of the Year

“It was something of a relied to turn at times to Robin Robertson's Sailing the Forest: masses of emotional intelligence here, and grace abundant.” —Richard Holloway, The Scotsman Books of the Year

“[Robertson is] prodigiously talented” —Candia McWilliam, The Scotsman Books of the Year

“The poetry event of 2014 was Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems, by Robin Robertson, which affords a longer view of this supremely gifted artist. Here is passion, savagery and tenderness, all combined and all controlled within a faultless technique.” —John Banville, Irish Times Books of the Year

Sailing the Forest by Robin Robertson is a wonderfully generous selected poems. Great precision of language, limpid observation and a rare ability to make the narrative of the poems resonate evocatively. A ripple-effect that is remarkably profound.” —William Boyd, The Observer (UK)

Sailing The Forest: Selected Poems by Robin Robertson – the only words more welcome as subtitle might be All the Poems. Read it, give it, read it aloud, give it to poetry agnostics and watch them shiver, touched by the poet's tinsel, his understanding of this light and that darkness.” —Candia McWilliam, The Herald (UK) Books of the Year

“Robin Robertson's bracing book offers a host of pleasures: rich and briny atmospheres, the burr and bristle of a fine ear, an eye restless for exact and searing detail. But the greatest of these is watching a writer come into his own, in poems increasingly compelling and large in their embrace, their dark and lustrous landscapes fully inhabited, fully haunted.” —Mark Doty, National Book Award-winning author of Fire to Fire

“Robin Robertson is one of the finest contemporary poets, as this collection amply shows. His is a wonderful hard clear music, and the muscularity and toughness of his verse is everywhere counterpointed by a deep-lying tenderness. Sailing the Forest is a marvellously buoyant vessel.” —John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea

“Each poem comes to us so cleansed of excess, so concentrated and perfectly pared down to its essence we can only wonder at the adamantine sharpness of its edges.” —Billy Collins

“Robertson is a superstar of Scottish poetry.” —Adam Newey, The Guardian

“There's an oneiric charge and intensity to many of these poems that builds to a fabular clarity of thought, which is at once precise in its particularity and placeless. Whether in his extraordinarily fresh renderings of Ovid or his own imaginings, Robertson's lines have the luminosity of myth. The Wrecking Light is a work of extraordinary visionary power, its music bleak and beautiful, spare and unsparing. If there were justice in the world, it would win every prize going.” —Adam Newey, The Guardian

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Robin Robertson

Robin Robertson is from the northeast coast of Scotland. He has published five collections of poetry—most recently Hill of Doors—and has received numerous of accolades, including the Petrarca Prize, the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and all three Forward Prizes. In 2006 he published The Deleted World, a selection of English versions of poems by Tomas Tranströmer, and has since translated two plays of Euripides', Medea and The Bacchae.

Robin Robertson

Niall McDiarmid

Robin Robertson

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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