Robin MacKenzie

Drift, Borderland, Afterlife: Writing the Shoreline in Kathleen Jamie’s Findings and Roseanne Watt’s Moder Dy

Taking as a starting point ‘Drift’, an essay by Icelandic archaeologist Þóra Pétursdóttir published in 2018, I will embark on a reading of selected texts by Kathleen Jamie and Roseanne Watt, focusing especially on the title essay of Jamie’s Findings (2005) and the poems in the middle section (‘Sjusamillabakka’) of Watt’s debut poetry collection, Moder Dy (2019). A distinguishing feature of these texts is their evocation, in formally quite contrasting ways, of shorelines and the heterogeneous objects washed up there. This ‘drift matter’ is likewise a major leitmotiv of Pétursdóttir’s article, which is structured around a cluster of concepts – ‘borderline’, ‘coincidence’, ‘afterlife’ – offering an oblique but potentially productive approach to the texts by Jamie and Watt, on both a thematic and a formal level. This is not a one-way process, however: as a generically hybrid text, straddling the boundary between scholarly article and photo-essay and rich in lyricism and metaphor, ‘Drift’ itself invites comparison with the more overtly poetic writing of Jamie and Watt rather than serving solely as a theoretical point of reference. If, as Pétursdóttir claims, ‘the Anthropocene […] is the age of drift matter’, the texts of our three writers carry resonances extending far beyond the supposedly remote localities they describe.

Robin MacKenzie, University of St Andrews, Scotland