Why the Sky is Far Away is the long-awaited new poetry collection from Mandy Haggith, a unique voice from the ‘top left corner’ of Scotland. She begins with creation and ends with death and in between she wonders about life, love, animals and other family. These are poems that step aside from the urban flow to find tenderness, fun, wisdom and gratitude. If you like bears, you’ll love this book.
Originally from Northumberland, Mandy Haggith has made her home in Assynt in the north west of Scotland where she combines writing with sailing, environmental activism and teaching literature and creative writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands. She won the Robin Jenkins Literary Award for environmental writing in 2009 and
in 2013 was poet in residence at the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens.
‘These poems sing ‘a long strong song’ in celebration of life and its most strange, delightful and unforgettable moments. Mandy Haggith revels in language to ask ‘a welter of questions about the world’—landscapes rich in creatures wild and domesticated, in magic, fairy and folktale. Grief and joy interweave as she goes walking in yellow boots down to the sea, heart open to the fragility and the resilience of nature: ‘tickle the world like a child, feel it/tremble. It is vulnerable, like you.’ There are many pleasures to be found here—in the ‘thrush’s couplets’, love songs to bears, a gorgeous horticultural adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer in which the ‘amen’ becomes ‘cyclamen’. Haggith has a light, deft touch and an abiding passion for the sanctity of our earth. The poems are wise, too: “bask in the glow of now’s fire”.’
‘Bears, birds, quirky creation myths, playful hints of song-like rhyme, yes… But what endures from this substantial collection is this poet’s tough mid-life love for the natural world, her hard-won acceptance of grief, longing, of the natural cycles of living as a human animal, a woman, in this world. You will find a lot more than one “word for being in this moment, full of gratitude”.’
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