Historians of many Atlantic coastlines (such as Domhnall Uilleam Stiùbhart, writing about Ness on Lewis) have shown that researchers need different skills and source material when approaching these regions than when writing about cities.
These are often regions where oral culture was exceptionally sophisticated, and written culture a late arrival. Historians thus find themselves falling into poetry.
Whether dealing with the classic poets – from Rob Donn to Dafydd ap Gwilym or Màiri Mhòr nan Òran – or the poets of mid-twentieth literary revivals, such as Hugh MacDiarmid, or the incredible outpouring of poetry over the last decade – there’s a connection between verse, history and ecology that is deep-rooted but is also flowering like never before.
Poetry therefore runs through The Frayed Atlantic Edge as one of the major resources for interpreting the coast. The bibliography begins with a long list of poetry collections. But the short list below provides some particularly good starting points for exploring the poetry of the shorelines:
Dressler & Stiùbhart (eds), Alexander MacDonald: Bard of the Gaelic Enlightenment (2012)
Ian Grimble, The World of Rob Donn (1979)
Seamus Heaney, North (1975)
Christine Evans, Island of Dark Horses (1995)
Sorley Maclean, From Wood to Ridge (1999)
W.S. Graham, Collected Poems (2004)
George MacKay Brown, Collected Poems (2006)
Moya Cannon, Carrying the Songs (2007)
Norman MacCaig, Collected Poems (2009)
Jen Hadfield, Byssus (2014)