poemof the moment
Who is the smallest and brightest and speckled with stars? I am.
about the poem
This poem was chosen to mark ‘Bones & Breath’ winning the Saltire Award for best Scottish poetry book this time last year. We could not know that it would coincide with the news of Sandy’s untimely death from cancer on 22 November. A comment about his earlier work being compounded of ‘wit and mystery’ still holds true, and added to that is the mastery of form and pace that makes ‘Bones & Breath’ such a rewarding read.
Image: Red-throated Loon or Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) by Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith, under a Creative Commons licence
poem chosen by…
This poem was chosen as one of last year’s Forward Prize commended single poems, and seems to pause and dive like the bird itself, teasingly withholding complete identification to the end, after a succession of beautifully phrased questions. And the first stanza perhaps reads as a metaphor for the work of the poet himself, diving down into the dark and bringing up a fragment of light. We keep those fragments when the poet is gone.
Alexander Hutchison, a poet and translator in Scots and English, was born in 1943 in Buckie in the north-east of Scotland, and worked mostly as a university teacher - including eighteen years in Canada and the USA. He was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire there. His final collection 'Bones & Breath' (2013) won the Saltire Award for Scottish Poetry Book of the Year in 2014.