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Bad Shaman Blues

Bad Shaman Blues

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Poetry Book Society Recommendation

Bad Shaman Blues are what we sing in middle age, when our visions and our virtues seem far away. They also lament the role of contemporary poetry: reached for in trauma, otherwise ignored. The poet as shaman cuts a reduced and comic figure ñ which immediately suggests W.N. Herbert. Packing his medicine pouch with classical lyric and barbarian spell, the Scot explores his border territories. Hadrian's Wall becomes a mirror through which to embark on an absurd shamanic flight to ñ naturally ñ Siberia.

Bad Shaman Blues is a Through the Looking Glass book, in which the familiar and the foreign confront one another. Sofia and Novosibirsk, Crete and Kolkatta, are all distorted in its hall of mirrors. In the textual underworld of the Scots tradition, literary ghosts are stalked by critical machines. Herbert's latest book presents the conventional poetry volume with its doppelg‰nger ñ dark, destabilising, daft.

"This antithesis of the slim volume bubbles and seethes with wit and polysyllabic adventurousness."
Edwin Morgan, The Scotsman

"A weird mix of Desperate Dan, MacDiarmid and DostoyevskyÖ a rare and fantastic voice."
Fiachra Gibbons, Guardian

"One maverick genius compatriot."
Don Paterson

"This multi-layered fantasising could be disorientating, but it ain't. Instead it is very funny and the reader is swept along."
Keith Bruce, The Herald