Three new poems on folklorist Robert Kirk in Contrary

Three of my new poems exploring the life, death, and work of Robert Kirk — the 17th century Scottish folklorist, minister, and Gaelic scholar — are featured in the summer issue of Contrary Magazine! Robert Kirk was the author of The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairiesa pseudo-scientific study of the folk beliefs of his parishioners about the sleagh maith — that is, the sith or fairies — and all of the other “subterranean and invisible inhabitants” of Scotland. Left in manuscript form at the time of Kirk’s death in 1692, The Secret Commonwealth was published by Andrew Lang in the 19th century. I’m fascinated both by the book, which paints a vivid picture of 17th century Scottish folk beliefs, and by the facts of Kirk’s life. He claimed to have second sight, truly believed in the sleagh maith, and was found dead in his nightshirt one evening on a dun-shi, or fairy hill, in his native Aberfoyle, Scotland. You can read the poems here.

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