Slow Air

Picador, 2002
Harcourt Inc., New York, 2002

‘Softly devastating…the purposefulness, artfulness and seriousness of Slow Air, and the strength of his earnest, elemental, unfussy voice, affirm that Robin Robertson is a poet who should be read both widely and deeply.’ Nick Laird, Times Literary Supplement

‘Robertson’s voice [is] as overheard and confiding as a friend, as awakening as weather, and clever like the right book. He is a scholarly but unostentatious unfolder of arcana. The defining qualities are tact and high intelligence. His wit tends to the old metaphysical kind that makes the stretch of a metaphor’s compass feel at once surprising, plausible and right. You sense a pile of pared-away words, polished off by Robertson’s planing art… When you read this poet’s work, you believe its vision.’
Candia McWilliam, Scotsman

‘Robin Robertson has an exacting ear, an ear able to register shifts in the folds of silk. Sinatra’s phrasing, his deliberate mastery of the spontaneous pause, is the nearest equivalent.’
Craig Raine, Areté 

‘A respected editor of poetry and fiction, Robertson is an unsparing editor of his own poems; almost half of these 46 pieces have been sculpted until they are briefer than a sonnet. It is an agonised and agonizing brevity… Robertson is meticulous in his use of motifs…[but] the tenor of the poetry is anything but contrived. Slow Air is an immaculate performance.’
Stephen Knight, Independent on Sunday

Slow Air shows Robin Robertson at his mordant best. Each poem comes to us so cleansed of excess, so concentrated and perfectly pared down to its essence we can only wonder at the adamantine sharpness of its edges. This work confirms what his readers already knew – that Robertson the poet is not fooling around.’
Billy Collins

‘Robertson has an almost painterly eye…his visual and tactile sense experience is gorgeously transcribed into language…like Frost, Robertson is almost preternaturally attuned to the natural world as a site of interruption or abandonment. In the finest offerings here, we enter an uncanny environment, both awed and discomfited by our foray behind the poet’s eye. In much of Slow Air, the boundary between dream and waking life is both permeable and elegantly crossed. Robertson’s dream images speak with veiled but unmistakable authority – an authority that never, in Stevens’s words “invents without discovery” … The resonance of such images, as they transpose into sound, will stay with the reader…’
Christina Pugh, Poetry