Like Becoming Bone, Nest of Thistles had its origin in a Smith College lecture, this time one that Annie Boutelle delivered in honor of Robert Burns manuscripts donated to the Mortimer Rare Book Room. Researching Burns’s life and poems reconnected Annie to her Scottish childhood (she lived there until she was 21), and plunged her into the Scots language of Lallans or Broad Scots.
Several different strands weave through Nest of Thistles: the largest strand is composed of poems on the topic of her childhood in Aberfeldy and Oban; other strands are translations from Rainer Maria Rilke, poems about poetry, or about individual poets. The Scottish landscape plays a dominant role, and several of the poems use Lallans words, e.g. “scunnert” and “stravaig” and “plowter.” The cover image, by Annie Raskin, is of the island of Kerrera as viewed from the house which Annie Boutelle’s mother owned in Oban.
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