Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of 2018

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At the Saltire Literary Awards, 30 November 2018 (pic: E. Rowan)

It was a huge honour – and very exciting – when Wristwatch was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year in October. Given the strength of the other poetry collections from Scotland and Scottish writers this year, I was thrilled and surprised to learn the outcome at the awards ceremony on 30 November. It was a face-clutching moment to hear Wristwatch named Scottish Poetry Book of the year.

The judging panel said: “The unexpected vicissitudes of human life are grafted into the natural world – animate and inanimate – creating a deeply personal and moving collection. The poems are alert and humane, even humorous when least expected. For a first collection this is very assured, mature and coherent piece of work.”

I’m very grateful to the Saltire Society, to the panel of judges, to Cinnamon Press for taking a chance on an unknown, and to everyone on the Scottish scene (and beyond) who has supported me along the way.

Advance praise for Wristwatch

From Jane McKie –

Jay Whittaker’s debut sizzles with feeling: feelings explored, and feelings held in check. In poems that explore love, bereavement, the survival of breast cancer and many other aspects of life, she is brave, astute, compassionate, and — where needed — witty. Throughout this debut, she demonstrates a keen eye for the natural world, a fine ear, and great sensitivity to our strengths and foibles as human beings. The result is a delightfully ambitious and humane read.

From Roselle Angwin –

Courageous and engaging, Wristwatch maps Jay Whittaker’s journey through some of the biggest transitions we can make: death of a lover, her own experience with cancer and its drawn-out treatment, and loss of parents and other relatives being core to the themes. Somehow, Whittaker manages to make these poems beautiful, and not depressing.

And then there is breakthrough: new life, love, hope.

Throughout, the natural world carries the themes; in and for itself, and also as metaphor. This gives grounding to the subtle nuances of Whittaker’s writing. Some poems are fiery, edgy (‘Risky Breasts’, ‘Baited’, ‘Thank You, Vera’); some are poignantly delicate (’Sea Defence’, ‘Singing Bowl’, ‘Wide local excision’, ‘What the Hare Knows’). All of them are compelling.