Dry Stone Work
Published by Arc Publications
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The third full collection by Brian Johnstone, and his second to be published by Arc in their Poetry from the UK & Ireland series.
A grounded yet playful collection from an assured poet, flexing his muscles into newer territory. As well as the deep lineage of rural landscapes that populated previous collections, here Johnstone treats us to an extended trip to the circus, where the glitz and thrill of the big top and its stunts are peeled back to allow us into the physical and emotional rigour that forms the show’s backbone. Elsewhere poems transport you more literally through music, movies and TV history, around Europe and into the distant past, again balancing between illusion and the tension that supports it in the more mundane world. And throughout, the tone and language also plays an ingenious balancing act between the structured, the rhyming and the informal. This is a personal and expansive collection, honest and exploratory.
"Brian Johnstone appears to have taken to heart, or learned by instinct and experience, Robert Frost’s advice to avoid approaching a poem’s subject too directly. A consequence of this is that Johnstone’s poems establish their own presence, leaving room for mystery and lyricism to emerge with a convincing uniqueness. Dry Stone Work is a robust collection, packed with original strengths, delicacies, variety, and a vivid awareness of life. An impressive collection, then, not just to be recommended, but to be read and re-read." - Douglas Dunn
"The use of language is authentic and precise, and the perception of an often-hidden world fascinating and genuine." - David Morley on The Ring Cycle sequence
Born in Edinburgh in 1950, Brian Johnstone has lived in the Fife countryside since 1972. He has published two full collections and three pamphlets, as well as appearing in anthologies and other publications in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK and in Europe and the Americas.