"Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
Well I have.. for the April rain has, and the mica on the side of a rock has."
— Walt Whitman
Mica - a mineral. It glitters, like a crumb you want to pick up.
Learning How to Sing is a new collection of poems written
since The Gates of Light was published by Mica Press in 2016. Learning How to Sing extends James Aitchison’s celebration
of the natural world, and in his poems on islands and seaways
the celebration is a form of pilgrimage. His compositions
encompass other topics: for example James Aitchison on time
ranges from contemplating the origins of life to recognising
the uncertain future of our world; his vision of lived time and
mortality is expressed in elegiac lyrics for Duke Ellington,
Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and lost friends.
From the publication of Brain Scans in 1988 to that of The
Gates of Light in 2016, the life and nature of the mind have
been recurring subjects in James Aitchison’s poetry. In this
ample new collection his poems on that theme are subtle,
sometimes disturbing and, in the poems on his own mental
states, darkly humorous.
Learning How to Sing, like all Aitchison’s previous
collections, shows his respect for language and love for the
craft of poetry.
James Aitchison, author of New Guide to Poetry
and Poetics (Rodopi Editions, 2013), The Golden Harvester: the
Vision of Edwin Muir (Aberdeen University Press, 1988) and The
Cassell Dictionary of English Grammar (Cassell, 1996), as well as
six previous poetry collections, was born in Stirlingshire in 1938 and educated at Glasgow
and Strathclyde Universities. In the 1960s he worked as a publicity
copywriter at The Scotsman Publications in Edinburgh, after which he held
a series of minor posts in Scottish colleges and universities. He and his wife
lived in Gloucestershire for five years and returned to Stirlingshire in 2007.
James Aitchison is a former poetry critic at The Scotsman and The (Glasgow)