Picador Poetry 20 - Aberdeen by Robin Robertson

21 February 2017

Celebrating 20 years of the finest contemporary poetry.

The Picador Poetry list is twenty years old, and from the outset has had one simple aim: to publish the best writers working across the entire art form.  Inaugurated in I997 with the poet Robin Robertson’s first collection A Painted Field , Picador Poetry has grown to become one of the UK’s leading poetry imprints with a stable of around thirty-five poets. Picador publishes many of the most important English-language poets of the age, including Carol Ann Duffy, Sean O’Brien, Kathleen Jamie, Paul Farley, Jackie Kay, Denise Riley and Billy Collins, and leads the field in prizes and awards. 

This poem is taken from Robin Robertson's A Painted Field, the very first Picador Poetry collection, published twenty years ago today.  

Robin Robertson

The grey sea turns in its sleep
disturbing seagulls from the green rock.

We watched the long collapse. the black drop
and frothing of the toppled wave; looked out
on the dark that goes to Norway.

We lay all night in an open boat, that rocked
by the harbour wall -listening to the tyres creak
at the stone quay. trying to keep time –
till the night-fishers came in their arc. their lap
of light: the fat slap of waves. the water's
sway. the water mullioned with light.

The sifting rain. italic rain; the smirr
that drifted down for days; the sleet.
Your hair full of hail. as if sewn there.
In the damp sheets we left each other sea-gifts.
watermarks: long lost now in all these years
of the rip-tide's swell and trawl.

All night the feeding storm banked up
the streets and houses. In the morning
the sky was yellow. the frost ringing.

The grey sea turns in its sleep
disturbing seagulls from the green rock.

From Robin Robertson's A Painted Field.

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