A Clearance by Fiona Wilson

These poems explore the meaning of place in a world of full of change.  Freely mixing Scots, Standard English and American slang, they create their own idiom to demand “a change of address.”  History collides with personal experience, popular music with balladry and hymns.  The literary past crosses into the present. Robert Louis Stevenson is encountered first in Edinburgh, then later “sloping down Broadway.” A fragment from a Burns poem meets a conversation overheard on a city bus.  From the hills of Arran, to the streets of New York, A Clearance is about the near and the far, and the everyday miracle of contact.

“… A mysterious guest who has never outstayed her welcome. Now, in A Clearance, there is a clear sense of just how substantial a poetry Wilson has been writing …”

—Richard Price, Times Literary Supplement

“In this long-awaited and masterful debut, Fiona Wilson gives us astonishing and uncommon poems that may have emerged from the Scottish and American traditions but can be found somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, while her readers come ‘to the edge of a question’ by either shore. Wilson’s formal brilliance is all worked through with chagrin, wit, and modesty.

“The mind at play in these poems is thrilled, distracted, enchanted by the feeling of words in the mouth— the gray wet velvet of ‘mizzle,’ the scandal of ‘cramasie’—and by slips and turns of phrase, which she turns over like stones, like coins, as they become talismanic—to console, perhaps, as if the secret to transformation were to be found in language itself.”

—Saskia Hamilton

“Channeling birdsong, the hum of rivers, ‘the mad shush / of sound’ from the Highlands to the Hudson River, Wilson’s poems are gorgeous and perfected distillations.”

—Maureen N. McLane, “Seven Poets on the Verge”

“Words that trigger other words – an electrifying personality without ego; free-spirited; free falling; a voice never heard before – true to herself— Fiona Wilson. I not only read this book, I studied it, rearranging the written elements so I can see how she does it…Page after page, simple, elegant, and new.”

–Grace Cavalieri, Washington Review of Books

“Fiona Wilson’s A Clearance is a stunning and highly original collection of poems that reminds us of the beauty and complexity of our human relationships. She does this with a lyric intensity that is softly muted by her good sense and gift for analysis. These are the poems of one who is wistful and wise and altogether brilliant.”

—Sonja James, The Journal

“And what a fine debut it is. Wilson’s work is intense yet expansive, particular but not overly self-involved. There’s plenty room for humour, too. Wilson delights in teasing multiple meanings from words in a manner that is fitting and controlled; she seldom goes for the cheap pun.

… Furthermore, the poems have a largeness of spirit and an inventiveness that goes beyond introspection.”

—Kevin MacNeil, The Bottle Imp

Fiona Wilson

Fiona Wilson grew up near Aberdeen and now lives in New York City. She is the author of A Clearance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2015). A poet and scholar, her work has appeared in numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including Poetry Review, Edinburgh Review, Literary Imagination, New Writing Scotland, and the Edinburgh Companions to Contemporary Scottish Literature and Contemporary Scottish Poetry. She teaches literature at Sarah Lawrence College.