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Rob A Mackenzie’s Holiday Poetry Reads


During the holidays, I like to get stuck into a thick volume, a Collected or Selected, usually to fill a gap in my knowledge: a poet I’ve read poems by now and again but haven’t ever read in a sustained way. This year, I’m going for Marianne Moore’s Complete Poems.

Moore, although generally admired, isn’t much mentioned when it comes to contemporary influence, and I always like to read people who aren’t flavour of the month. I’m not vastly interested in syllabics (maybe that will change?), but I am interested in the shapes her poems make on the page, her winding syntax and agility of mind. I’m most interested in finding great poems that I somehow haven’t made time for until now.

Just in case I don’t like it much, I’m also taking with me a Tomas Tranströmer Selected. I’ve tended to stick with Robin Fulton’s translations, mainly because he’s a Scottish poet, I suppose, but I thought I’d take Robert Bly’s The Half-Finished Heaven: the Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer (Graywolf) this time round, partly for variation and partly because I’m going to be writing an article on Tranströmer and Bly at some point.

And I’m going to squeeze a thin volume into my bag: Don Share’s Wishbone (Black Sparrow Press). I’ve been looking forward to reading this for ages, but other commitments (mainly reviews and editing) have sucked away time for reading for pure pleasure. Now’s my chance!

Rob A. Mackenzie’s most recent collection is The Good News (Salt 2013). He lives in Leith and is reviews editor of Magma Poetry magazine.

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