As the nights close in, what could be better than to gather around the (virtual) hearth and consider multi-award winning poet Robin Robertson's shadow-wracked new collection, Grimoire (Picador).
A grimoire is a manual for invoking spirits, and in Robertson's intense Celtic take, it tells stories of ordinary people caught up, suddenly, in the extraordinary: tales of violence, madness and retribution, of second sight, witches, ghosts, selkies, changelings and doubles, all bound within a larger mythology. This is a book of curses and visions, gifts both desired and unwelcome, full of the same charged beauty as the Scottish landscape – a beauty that can switch, with a mere change in the weather, to hostility and terror.
Joining Robertson in conjuring the spirit of place, people and purpose was Alasdair Roberts, the extraordinary singer-songwriter and keeper of the tradition, and the T.S. Eliot prize-winning poet Jen Hadfield, whose most recent collection is Byssus. The evening was hosted by Gareth Evans.
Settle in with a dram or two of your choice. But keep an eye on the window. And the door...