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The Breakfast Room

The Breakfast Room

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Shortlisted for the £25,000 Scottish Book of the Year Award

"[A] perfect filigree collection of poems, exquisitely balanced between a fresh delight in everyday little events and revelations and a mature, gently ironic detachment."
Professor Carla Sassi, Scottish Book of the Year judge

The waif-like figure peering from Bonnard's 'The Breakfast Room' instils a sense of mystery and marginality in Stewart Conn's title-poem. Among other portents of transience in his latest collection are two briefly glimpsed duck shooters. Responses to music, tinged with warmth and humour, highlight the redeeming power of art. The book concludes with a group of love poems imbued with tenderness and a treasuring of the here and now.

"[A] masterful collection of poetry [which] explores the fragility and vulnerability of our lives and ends with an evocation of the preciousness of time and of love."
David Robinson, Literary Editor, The Scotsman

"Characteristically restrained, subtly lyrical and filled with gentle humour... a beautiful and moving collection."
Anne Donovan

"He stands among the indispensable poets of modern and contemporary Scotland."
Douglas Dunn

"The first poems are delightful, playing with mirror images, reflections in train windows, shifting dreamscapes, all composed in a low-key conversational style."
John Greening, TLS

"The title Ghosts at Cockcrow captures the precarious beauty of Conn's work, its departures and beginnings, its lingerings and resurrectionsÖ his almost trademark filigree assonances and half rhymes, wry asides and sudden details. Anger, art, angst, guilt and guile, the humane and the human are all here."
Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

"Ghosts at Cockcrow is a graceful 'slipping' as he puts it, into seniority, at once a coming of old age, and an acquiring of senior status among Scotland's poets. It is full of high culture, old Europe and wry self-deprecation, visiting Barcelona, Burgundy and the capital to which he played laureate for three years, Edinburgh."
W.N. Herbert, Poetry London

"The freshness of Conn's poetry comes from his varied forms: the stocky bluntness of the prose poems, the winding paths of the couplets, and the neat steps of his tercets."
Scottish Review of Books

Stewart Conn is one of Scotland's leading poets. Born in Glasgow in 1936, he grew up in Ayrshire, and has lived in Edinburgh for many years. He was Edinburgh's first Makar or Poet Laureate in 2002-05. His other books include Stolen Light: Selected Poems (1999) and Ghosts at Cockcrow (2005) from Bloodaxe, and his memoir Distances (2001) from Scottish Cultural Press.