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Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World

“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.”

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Findings: Essays on the Natural and Unnatural World

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.

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About Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie was born in the west of Scotland in 1962. She studied philosophy at Edinburgh University and at 19 she won the prestigious Eric Gregory Award, which enabled her to travel. At 20 she published her first poetry collection, Black Spiders. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian and BBC Radio and her nonfiction writing and poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Orion, Poetry, The Economist’s Intelligent Life, New Statesman, Boston Review and the London Review of Books.

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.

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