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A Trick of the Light
by Roselle Angwin
(pub. 2017)

In the early 1980s, Roselle Angwin visited the Hebridean island of Iona for the first time. She has been going back regularly ever since, running annual writing workshops initially with her friend, the poet Kenneth Steven, and since 2009 on her own. The love affair she has with this tiny island – just 3 miles long and 1 mile wide – is passionate but also deeply spiritual. Best known today for its Christian abbey, Iona was the heart of early Celtic monasticism, and before that a widely-known centre for Druid teachings. Gathered together for the first time, these poems are testament to the potentially transformative nature of place and history, both personal and geographical; they are testament to our ‘covenant with wild’.


Praise for A Trick of the Light:

“Every syllable here yearns for that unnameable, innermost 'home' in ourselves, the now now now that an island consciousness can sometimes heighten. The sincerity of these poems emerges from the subtle clarity of the elements themselves, from the firm responsiveness of a powerfully listening woman. With all this in tow, Angwin's images and impressions forever steer our thoughts back towards the ‘journey which never ends.”

Mario Petrucci

A Trick of the Light is both a pilgrimage towards and a paean to the Isle of Iona – ‘a love letter to the wind and rain’. In sequences of short, intense lyrics, notable for their prayer-like and meditative qualities, Angwin bridges the gaps between the external world of sea, seals, birds and rocks, and the potential of the internal life, bringing ‘our hopes and dreams / right up to the rim of the world’.”

Andy Brown


“Angwin’s longstanding kinship with the wild reaches new heights in this collection. She moves effortlessly between lucid detail and deep vision as she leaves behind the ‘white noise’ of the world for the embrace of sea, wind, rain and silence. Beautifully wrought, the poems are in love with life, but accepting of transience, their spiritual wisdom strongly felt but lightly worn – a ‘passionate equanimity’ that is a rare and mature achievement.”

Rosie Jackson


“It was a joy and a privilege to run these first writing retreats with Roselle on Iona. They remain forever in my mind like their own place – an island of their own. Hardly a surprise then that poems should come to both our pens during such special years. And to use Roselle's own beautiful term, these are bright moments. They are pieces of light, to be kept and held in the heart.”

Kenneth Steven

Corncrakes

I walked the length of the island with her
under the April midnight, my own heart
splintering with her desolation and all
the island’s voices; our feet feeling the way.

Later, walking back alone, and afraid for all of us,
slip of moon drawing a finger along the shore,
a corncrake starting up suddenly like a rusty saw
back of the machair and again in the shallows of Dun I;

just the way a joy will visit entirely when you’re
unready, thinking of something other – so
the corncrake, thrumming its sound right across
your lungs, like first light, sweeping all else out.

If a guest should visit now, then, your heart
would be, despite the storm, reordered, the extra
place laid and waiting, even if he takes forever
to arrive, even if he doesn’t come at all.


(from A Trick of the Light)

A Trick of the Light

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