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Grimoire-New Scottish Folk Tales - Robin Robertson - Picador Poetry 2020

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

The word Grimoire originates from the French word "Grammaire" (grammar) a book defining rules for symbol interpretation but has since come to be the word associated with esoteric texts regarding magic and spell binding. Scotland, just like much of the British Isles, has a rich historical heritage in witchery, its unique landscape and wilderness providing story tellers and myth makers plenty of material with which to thrill, excite & frighten those ready to lend an ear.

Robin Robertson is one of Scotland's finest lyrical Poets and has created, along with his illustrator brother Tim, a memorable if not disturbing collection of texts and images to challenge our conformity and superstitions. Using as a back drop Scotland's natural world; its barren terrain, its proximity with wild animals, its weather extremes, each story explores the boundaries of what it means to be human and normal. Confronted with life in these harsh hinterlands, the characters succumb to magical fantasies that engender control and abuse, infanticide and murder of those that are different or deviant. The opening lyric - "Of Muthadh/Mutability" - sets the scene for what is to come.

The idea of therianthrope abounds in the stories and are stunningly interpreted in his brother's accompanying monochrome illustrations.

Illustrations by Tim Robertson

Robin Robertson's rhythmical mixing of English, Gaelic & Scots enhances the notion of just how difficult it is to decipher the world in which we inhabit - for those unfamiliar with the language(and many will be) he provides an excellent glossary for each poem with pronunciation, meaning & on occasions etymology of words.

Grimoire is now longlisted for the 2020 Highland Book prize

Further Reading & Links:

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