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Kathleen JamieEssays and Poems on Her work$
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Rachel Falconer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748696000

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748696000.001.0001

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‘Sweet-Wild Weeks’: Birth, Being and Belonging in Jizzen

‘Sweet-Wild Weeks’: Birth, Being and Belonging in Jizzen

(p.71) 7. ‘Sweet-Wild Weeks’: Birth, Being and Belonging in Jizzen
Kathleen Jamie

Juliet Simpson

Edinburgh University Press

The last tercet of ‘February’ concentrates a fiercely tender chiaroscuro of birth and being, which is arguably the pulse-beat and enigma of Jamie’s early collection, Jizzen. ‘Birth’, figured, here, as a plenitude of the ordinary, is charged with an abrupt luminosity of extraordinary connection that patterns the animal and earthy, with being, belonging and ‘birthright’. This essay takes Jamie’s treatment of ‘birth’ in Jizzen, as a starting-point for exploring its multi-faceted physical, poetic and aesthetic potency. First, is as an event unfolding oblique supernatural insight – the baby’s heart ‘nesting’ in St. Kevin’s arms (‘Prayer’) – and, second, as linked with a paradox of identity that finds its strength and power – its spiritualism of being – from an encounter with native land, people and ‘mother’ tongue, ostensibly non-mythic and banal. Finally, the essay suggests Jizzen’s many-layered entwining of ‘birth’ as bound up with a deeper, at times conflicting imagery, poetics and language of fullness and loss, connection and disconnection – of ‘birthing’ in and through multiple registers of language, place and identity in a series of constant re-encounters with and re-patterning of what may be ‘foreign’ and yet still ‘belong’.

Keywords:   Kathleen Jamie, Jizzen, Birth, Birthright, belonging

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