Every month, we shine the light on a book from our collection – one which is new to the library, which has been particularly enjoyed by a borrower, recommended by a volunteer, or which seems salient to the month’s events or happenings. To see the archive of past books of the month (formerly book of the week), click here.

 

The current book of the month is…

 

December: Ten Poems about Robins ed. Hamish Whyte

 

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It’s a Christmas card cliché: the red robin-breast against a jut of twig or snowy landscape. But there’s a reason why robins get so much press in winter, though they sing all year round. In the dark and bleak, it’s a relief to see something tender and bright. With big curious eyes and little flamey bellies, robins are the perfect symbol of hope, an antidote to the dead and damp and bleak. That’s why this December’s book of the month is Candlestick Press’s Ten Poems About Robins.

While other creatures hide or hibernate, we have a kinship to these little birds who also work through the winter. We too toil and stay awake all the year round. MacCaig recognizes this courage of the robin and the human, “except the red is in my breast, not on it.” The poems in the collection echo each other in saying yes, this time of year is hard and cold (Rossetti calls it “the unlovely rest / Of Winter’s pause”) but if there is one spot of warmth to be made, we must make it. And it can be made with little kindnesses like feeding the robins with “a bowl of little wrigglers” (as in Fleur Adcock’s ‘To the Robins’). It can be made by singing where we can. Hamish Whyte summarizes in his poem: “the thing I love / is the persistence.”