“When the day ended with time for questions, I had some turning in my head . . . About ‘nature,’ mostly, which we were exhorted to reconnect with. What was it, exactly, and where did it reside?”
With her poet’s eye and naturalist’s affinity for wild places, Kathleen Jamie reports from the field in this enthralling collection of fourteen essays whose power derives from the stubborn attention she pays to everything around her. Jamie roams her native Scottish “byways and hills” and sails north to encounter whalebones and icebergs. Interweaving personal history with her scrutiny of landscape, Jamie dissects whatever her gaze falls upon—from vistas of cells beneath a hospital microscope, to orcas rounding a headland, to the aurora borealis lighting up the frozen sea. Written with precision, subtlety, and wry humor, Sightlines urges us to “Keep looking. Keep looking, even when there’s nothing much to see.”Read more
“This intelligent collection of 14 essays, informed by science and myth, heightened attention, and cultural dreams, is written with Scots brogue, language, and attitude that will give American readers a fresh view of nature.”
“Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines, a collection of brilliant and enticing essays about natural phenomena, tingles with life. John Berger called her a “sorceress,” and so she is.”
—Diana Athill, author of Somewhere Towards the End
“The dance of Jamie’s words enacts the mind in motion as it moves between the shifting, shimmering processes of nature and art.”
“Jamie’s prose is exquisite, yet never indulgent. . . . This is a book that will stay with you, as its sights and sounds have stayed with its writer. [A] work of intense purity and quiet genius, and we’re lucky to have it.”
—The Sunday Telegraph
“A haunting new collection from one of our finest nature writers . . . . Immensely beguiling. There are piquant descriptions that stop you in your tracks . . . . but the real power of the writing derives from the steady increment of detail and the honesty of her responses to the natural world.”
—The Sunday Times (London)
“Her written words make readers see with a clarity bestowed by only a few most gifted writers. . . . It is not often that the prose of a poet is as powerful as her verse, but Jamie’s is. There are people uninterested in books about remote places and wild creatures; but to the rest of us [this book] will be a treasure.”
“There is such a precision, of both thinking and seeing, displayed in these works that you would have to be a very obtuse kind of reader not to realize that Jamie is a poet.”
“At which point I put the book down again and thought: ‘I wonder if I would actually kill to be able to write, or think, like that.’ It’s like this pretty much all the way through.”
—Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
It’s surprising what you can find by simply stepping out to look. Kathleen Jamie, award winning poet, has an eye and an ease with the nature and landscapes of Scotland as well as an incisive sense of our domestic realities. In Findings she draws together these themes to describe travels like no other contemporary writer. Whether she is following the call of a peregrine in the hills above her home in Fife, sailing into a dark winter solstice on the Orkney islands, or pacing around the carcass of a whale on a rain-swept Hebridean beach, she creates a subtle and modern narrative, peculiarly alive to her connections and surroundings.
About Kathleen Jamie
Her poetry collections to date include The Tree House, which won both the Forward prize and the Scottish Book of the Year Award, Jizzen, which won the Geoffey Faber Memorial Award, Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead, which was shortlisted for the 2003 Griffin Prize, and The Overhaul, which won the 2012 Costa Poetry Award and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. She has also won the Somerset Maugham Award, a Paul Hamlyn Award, and a Creative Scotland Award.
Her first nonfiction book, Among Muslims, was described as “utterly luminous” by the Independent and “one of the most powerful accounts by a contemporary Western writer” by the Times Literary Supplement. Her subsequent collection of prose essays, Findings, is considered a landmark in nature writing.
Kathleen Jamie is Chair of Poetry at Stirling University, and lives with her family in Fife.