I published a first pamphlet, Black Spiders, at age 19. Several collections have followed, including The Tree House, The Overhaul, and The Bonniest Companie. In 2019 my Selected Poems was published, featuring work from four decades.
This page gives links to much more information and resources, and to poems written and recorded, and a couple of readings.
There have been translations, prizes, festivals – all wonderful.
But at heart, it’s about the fascination of bringing one word, one sound, against another, of clarifying an image.
Of asking: Who is speaking here? Who, or what is being addressed?
About the moment when, at last, the poem reveals what it’s going to become, which is rarely what you’d imagined when you made that first draft.
About its mystery. And listening. Sometimes there is nothing…months, even years with no poems.
I still don’t know what poetry is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not about my ‘voice’.
Kathleen Jamie’s Selected Poems gathers together some of the finest work by one of the foremost poets currently writing in English. Although Jamie is perhaps best known for her writing on nature, landscape, and place, Selected Poems shows the full and remarkably diverse range of her work – and why many regard her work as crucially relevant to our troubled age.
No poet currently writing has a keener eye or ear; no poet has paid more careful attention to the other consciousnesses with whom we share the planet – and no poet has Jamie’s almost miraculous ability to show us just how the world might look when the human eye ceases to gaze on it. This exceptional collection of poetry, spanning several decades, allows readers to chart the development of one of our most important contemporary talents, and serves as perfect introduction to her work.
‘What a pleasure it is to have the best of Kathleen Jamie’s poems in a single, handsomely produced edition. Some think of her simply as a nature poet but that is to ignore the extent of her understanding of folklore, of history, and of the cosmic aspects of what are deemed ‘ordinary’ lives. Jamie is a poet who can summon up feelings of loss, sorrow and delight with consummate accomplishment. This book is a reminder of her astonishing talent.’
Paul Bailey, Literary Review
‘Jamie is renowned, justly, as one of our best poets of Scotland’s landscape and nature . ..The poems, written with fine precision, move from Scotland to Istanbul, Jerusalem, Tibet and the Karakorum mountains of India and Pakistan. . . There are some
excellent selections, including poems that cast a backward glance at childhood – the superb ‘The Girls’ is a treat – and that explore Scottish identity within the natural world.‘
The Bonniest Companie
In her extraordinary 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 Companie is a visionary response to a year shaped and charged by both local and global forces, and will stand as a remarkable document of our times.
‘An engaging and energetic collection that follows the cycle of a year, cycles within cycles, the migrations of birds and people. The many voices of Scotland’s natural and social worlds combine to create an outstanding aural map of our times’
Jackie Kay, Herald
The Overhaul is Kathleen Jamie’s first collection since the award-winning The Tree House, and it broadens her poetic range considerably. The Overhaul continues Jamie’s lyric enquiry into the aspects of the world our rushing lives elide, and even threaten. Whether she is addressing birds or rivers, or the need to accept loss, or sometimes, the desire to escape our own lives, her work is earthy and rigorous, her language at once elemental and tender.
As an essayist, she has frequently queried our human presence in the world with the question ‘How are we to live?’ Here, this is answered more personally than ever. The Overhaul is a mid-life book of repair, restitution, and ultimately hope – of the wisest and most worldly kind.
‘A perfect match for the primal Scottish landscapes she evokes and against which she explores human relationships . . . beautifully cadenced . . . utterly convincing . . . unquestionably a fine poet . . . she achieves a beautifully balanced classical simplicity’
The North magazine
The Tree House
For several years now, Kathleen Jamie’s work has addressed two principal concerns: how we negotiate with the natural world, and how we should define our conduct within family and society. In The Tree House Jamie argues – as Burns did before her – for an engagement of the whole being through a kind of practical earthly spirituality. These often startling encounters with animals, birds, and other humans propose a way of living which recognises the earth as home to many different consciousnesses — and a means of authentic engagement with ‘this, the only world’. Together they form one of the most powerful poetic statements of recent years.