So. Ahem. Yesterday was National Poetry Day. Yeah. Bet you forgot too. So, here’s a poem called At Roane Head that I’ve read and re-read and re-re-read. And every time it gives me the shivers. If helps if you know a little bit about Selkies. (Full disclosure, I knew NOTHING about Selkies until I read this poem.) Selkies are mythological creatures who live as seals in the ocean and live as humans on land after stepping out of their seal skins. Usually they only take their human form for short periods of time. That is, if they don’t loose their seal skin while romping around on land. Or, and this is what happens in a lot in Selkie myths, if someone doesn’t hide their seal skins from them. Now, why would someone want to hide a selkie skin, you might ask? Well, because the selkies are very beautiful and/or handsome when they take their human form. And, as the myths go, your regular everyday Joe or Josephina has a habit of falling in love with beautiful and/or handsome Selkies and wanting them to stay on shore forever.
K. So thats all I’ll say about Selkies. As for this poem, I came across Robin Robertson‘s book The Wrecking Light at Malaprops bookstore in Asheville, NC last month. It caught my attention because one of the poems in the book is dedicated to Alasdair Roberts who I really really like.
Sometimes poets aren’t the best readers of their own material but I think this video of Robertson reciting “At Roane Head” is astounding. Happy National Poetry Day. Belated.