Robertson’s Retirement/Bards In The Bog – Poetry News Roundup October 8th

Today, we take a look at the publisher and pet who is leaving Jonathan Cape. We also look at the poetry initiative to put poems back in public toilets in the Shetlands.

Robin Robertson to Retire from Jonathan Cape

The associate publisher of Jonathan Cape, Robin Robertson, has announced that he will be retiring from the position after 27 years.

During his lengthy career at Cape, he has been responsible for overseeing a number of features about prize-winning authors and poets, including Ocean Vuong, Alice Oswald, Michael Ondaatje and Anne Enright.

Robertson will be leaving the role at the end of 2020 but will still be running the poetry list in the capacity of editor-at-large.

Robertson began his career working at Penguin in 1978, before rising to the position of assistant fiction editor. He became a senior editor in 1985. He slowly moved into the field of “marginal areas” and worked with a number of writers from Ireland and Scotland. Over the years he has been responsible for a number of books that have appeared on the Booker shortlist.

He made the move to Cape in 1993 and it was whilst he was here that he created the Cape poetry list, which allowed him to build a home for many well-established poets as well as some up and coming ones.

Robertson is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a published poet in his own right with seven books of poetry to his name. He is a winner of the EM Forster Award, the Forward Prize and the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction.

His exacting taste and lack of playing by the rules have made him a very popular editor over the years and his innovative touch will be missed at Cape.

Bards in the Bog

The Shetland Library is launching a new series of “Bards in the Bog” a very popular poetry project where they display poems in the regions public toilets.

The idea was devised in 2009 and is run by the library working in cooperation with the Scottish Poetry Library and Shetland Arts. The project ran successfully until 2015 and after a 5-year break, they have decided to run it again. Many of the poems from 2015 are actually still on display.

Over the years the project has raised a good amount for a number of different charities.

The poets who have been published as part of the project are not just from the local area but from further afield. Many of them have been written in dialect.

There are no rules regarding the subject for the poetry. The only proviso is that the poems are no longer than 16 lines so that they can be reproduced in a large font on A4. This is so that they can be displayed on the back of the toilet door and still be read.

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