" Il marche, Walker. C'est son nom et sa nature. "
Jeune soldat canadien de retour des champs de bataille de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, Walker s'installe à New York en 1946. Hanté par la violence des combats, il peine à trouver sa place dans une Amérique où l'argent et la corruption règnent désormais en maîtres.
Il se lance alors dans une odyssée qui le conduit à San Francisco puis Los Angeles, tente de gagner sa vie en travaillant dans la presse et côtoie le monde du cinéma et du film noir qui le fascine. Mais point de salut pour cette âme perdue, condamnée à errer dans un décor qui n'est autre que le reflet de son chaos intime.
Road novel en forme de poème épique aux images puissantes, Walker est une évocation en noir et blanc de l'Amérique de l'après-guerre, une sublime parabole sur la nature du Mal.
Charged with strangeness and beauty, Hill of Doors is a haunted and haunting book, where each successive poem seems a shape conjured from the shadows, and where the uncanny is made physically present. The collection sees the return of some familiar members of the Robertson company, including Strindberg - heading, as usual, towards calamity - and the shape-shifter Dionysus. Four loose retellings of stories of the Greek god form pillars for the book, alongside four short Ovid versions. Threaded through these are a series of pieces about the poet's childhood on the north-east coast, his fascination with the sea and the islands of Scotland. However, the reader will also discover a distinct new note in Robertson's austere but ravishing poetry: towards the possibility of contentment - a house, a door, a key - finding, at last, a 'happiness of the hand and heart'. Magisterial in its command and range, indelibly moving and memorable in its speech, Hill of Doors is Robin Robertson's most powerful book to date.
A noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry, The Long Take is one of the most remarkable - and unclassifiable - books of recent years. Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can't return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but - as those dark, classic movies made clear - the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties. While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it - yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself.Watching beauty and disintegration through the lens of the film camera and the eye of the poet, Robin Robertson's The Long Take is a work of thrilling originality.
Robin Robertson’s fourth collection is, if anything, an even more intense, moving, bleakly lyrical, and at times shocking book than Swithering, winner of the Forward Prize. These poems are written with the authority of classical myth, yet sound utterly contemporary: the poet’s gaze – whether on the natural world or the details of his own life – is unflinching and clear, its utter seriousness leavened by a wry, dry and disarming humour. Alongside fine translations from Neruda and Montale and dynamic (and at times horrific) retellings of stories from Ovid, the poems in The Wrecking Light pitch the power and wonder of nature against the frailty and failure of the human. Ghosts sift through these poems – certainties become volatile, the simplest situations thicken with strangeness and threat – all of them haunted by the pressure and presence of the primitive world against our own, and the kind of dream-like intensity of description that has become Robertson’s trademark. This is a book of considerable grandeur and sweep which confirms Robertson as one of the most arresting and powerful poets at work today. ‘Robin Robertson continues to explore the bleak, beautiful territory that hehas made his own. His stripped-bare lyricism, haunted by echoes of folksong, is as unforgiving as the weather and poems such as 'At Roane Head' show him writing at the height of his considerable powers’ The Times
WINNER OF THE 2006 FORWARD PRIZE In Scots, the verb 'swither' has two meanings: to be doubtful, to waver, to be in two minds; and to appear in shifting forms - indeterminate and volatile. From disarmingly direct poems about the end of childhood to erotically charged lyrics about the ends of desire, Robertson's powerful third collection is stalked and haunted by both senses. Hard-edged, pitch-perfect, effortlessly various, Swithering is a book of brave and black romance, locating its voice in that space where great change is an ever-present possibility. Swithering has just won the Forward Prize for Best Collection and is also shortlisted for this year’s T.S. Eliot Prize.