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ALAN RIACH - THE WINTER BOOK - LAUNCH...

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Aros Centre

Seòmar Fhinn (upstairs seminar room)

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Isle of Skye

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THE WINTER BOOK: NEW POEMS 2009-2017

ALAN RIACH is Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University and past-President of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies. He recently became Convener of the Saltire Society.

Alan will be joined by John Purser reading from his selected poems There is No Night.

"The poems in The Winter Book are connections, connecting people, places and culture through time. They act laterally, across geographies, nationally in Scotland and internationally in global, political contexts of loss and affirmation, sorrow and anger, personal and public worlds, as memories flow into history." Douglas Gifford.

Dark castles of bad management and wasted resources are opposed by the forces of art, the virtues of openness, a gathering sense that borders are sometimes precious things that need to be protected, and that travelling across and beyond them is equally vital.

Scotland is the magnetic centre for the collection, in three respects: west coast landscapes and Glasgow, northern archipelagos, coasts and harbours, all offer welcomes, recognitions, farewells; then personal engagement with family and friends brings both the joy of trusted companionship and angry grief at death’s imposition; and finally, Scotland’s political hopes and despairs are interwoven with these geographical and personal references as the book gathers work from 2009-2017, tackling directly some of Scotland’s most challenging recent history. Names are named.

The focus on Scotland is complemented by sequences of travel-poems and translations. Istanbul, India, Cornwall, Corunna, Shakespeare’s Stratford and Poland’s chill winter, all prompt reflections on severities and extremes, and, with a gaunt eye, imply something possible, but not easy, to come in the spring. And English-language versions of poems from Russia, Spain, and 16th-century Scotland introduce a kaleidoscope of perspectives to qualify the central themes and wintry character of the book.

And direct engagements with other works of art – the music of Arnold Bax, Jean Tinguely’s moving mechanical sculpture and J.D. Fergusson’s great painting, ‘Les Eus’ – drive us towards the paradox of uncertainty and affirmation. When tyrants rule and darkness overwhelms, a human sense of touching the elements helps.

The Winter Book is Alan Riach’s first full collection since Homecoming (2009).

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Aros Centre

Seòmar Fhinn (upstairs seminar room)

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Isle of Skye

United Kingdom

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