From the forests of Finland to the plain of Lombardy, from a Scottish beach to a river island in Hungary, Tom Hubbard deploys the riches of the Scots language to explore that tragicomic space we call Europe. The poems are variously tender and mischievous in their treatment of our all-too-human foibles – ‘ Scots is a language rich in verbal music. A resource glossary is also included in the book.
The wandering scholar is a great European tradition and Scotland has had her share, poets, singers, the restless and endlessly curious, travelling workers in literature, language and the arts. Among the most distinctive riches yielded by this tradition, Tom Hubbard’s poems are evocative encounters with places, people, political and personal states, that range across Europe and history, centred in his own Scottish sensibility, but receptive to, exploring and describing, different nations, artists and cultures. Particular accounts of engagement with others indicate matters of value and illumination, not least the stained-glass windows of Marc Chagall and the symphonies of Carl Nielsen. These poems are day-books of travel and meditation, records of what art can do, the good of all the arts, through all the galleries and balconies of Europe. They are arcades of wonder.
Poet and Professor of ScottishÂ Literature, University of Glasgow
“Who says that Scots must be restricted to Scottish subject matter? Liz Lochhead and Edwin Morgan have transcended that narrow concept, and if further proof for the universality of Scots was needed, Tom Hubbard, Fifer, poet, translator, performer and itinerant literary scholar, delivers it at cask strength with this collection: a rich and rewarding and most entertaining encounter with fellow-European cultures â€“ at once truly Scots and truly European.”
— EBERHARD (“PADDY”) BORT, University of Edinburgh
“At stake is not just parity of poetic esteem for Scots but the status of the spoken and written word in general.”
— MICHAEL KERRIGAN in the Scotsman, with a four-star rating for the book.
“The Chagall at wrocht the winnocks in the sang at gies the haill buik its teitle wes a Jewish limner at wes born in Belarus, bade whiles in Russia, whiles in France an whiles in America, shapit the winnocks for a kirk in Germany, an nou inspeirit a braw sang frae a Scottish makar. Is thon no cosmopolitanism? Here we hae as bonnie a pruif as ye coud wiss tae finn o hou the Scottish speirit is maist national whan maist international. Scottish cultuir in its best times tuik whit it hed need o frae ither airts, an paid back the debt wi interest. Scotland mairches shouther tae shouther wi fowerteen ither kintras in Tam Hubbard’s winnersome ingetherin.”
— J. DERRICK McCLURE, in Lallans
Novelist and poet; former visiting professor at overseas universities (Budapest, Connecticut, Grenoble); first Librarian of the Scottish Poetry Library, 1984-92.