Monika Szuba

‘How earnestly the land conducts itself’: The Scottish Poetry of the Oikos

Challenging the territorial concept of belonging and interrogating the subject-object dichotomy, Scottish poets such as John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie and Robin Robertson offer the reconciliation of the self with the world in a nondualistic embodied understanding of Being. In their poems, the perceiving self is entangled in the world and intertwined with nonhuman beings, as well as other entities and phenomena. Not driven by the will to master or dominate but by the awareness of the care for the oikos, understood as the earthly household, the human subject mediates and is mediated by place. The work of those poets offers a sustained reflection on dwelling as a manner of being-in-the-world that is trans- and metanational, however rooted in Scotland or Scottishness the poets’ immediate contexts, landscapes and language might be, it is boundless and foregrounds a cross-border, border erasing interconnectivity. The paper argues that the Scottish poetry of the oikos is an expression of immersion and engagement essential to an authentic experience of Being, exploring the connection of past and present through land. It will discuss the work of selected Scottish poets, illustrating how the self is intimately entwined in a phenomenological relationship with other beings and things. Finally, it will investigate how the poems enact this relationship and how the poets challenge conventional representations of landscape.

Monika Szuba, University of Gdańsk, Poland