Books I love | Miriam Gamble

July 7, 2011

Our poet of the month is Somerset Maugham award-winner Miriam Gamble. Here are the books she loves, a regular question put to our poets of the month.

An Old Favourite

Everything by Elizabeth Bishop – prose included. I just go back to her again and again, and she bowls me over every time; every time, I feel like I haven’t read it before. She’s a brilliant poet of description (and of description reaching beyond itself), but also a doyenne of the conceit. Her work combines the skilled articulation of ideas with immense evocative power. I’m also in love with early Derek Mahon: Night-Crossing is one of my most prized possessions. And Nil Nil by Don Paterson. Donne and TS Eliot were the writers who made me want to write.

A New Favourite

Public Dream by Frances Leviston – she’s the best poet of her generation on these islands. I can’t wait for the next book to come out. I also admire Meirion Jordan’s Moonrise. Further afield, Letters to the Tremulous Hand by Elizabeth Campbell stopped me in my tracks – she’s an Australian poet, based in Melbourne. Her poems are rebellious, and boundary-pushing, and intellectually exciting. They’re also crafted to perfection and very, very pure linguistically: she doesn’t have to dance around to get to the heart of the matter (which is no mean feat).

A Current Interest

Spanish language literature – in translation at the moment, though hopefully that will change! I’ve been enjoying a late honeymoon with the likes of Lorca, Neruda and García Márquez – all writers I ought to have read years ago. I’ve also come across some engaging contemporary voices – Héctor Carreto, for instance, and Louis Miguel Aguilar, both from Mexico.

You can borrow the books Miriam loves, and thousands more, from the Scottish Poetry Library. Check out our online catalogue

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