October 23, 2022

Robin Fulton Macpherson (b. Scotland, Isle of Arran / lives Norway) 1937

Robin Fulton Macpherson (Scotland / lives Norway)



Robin Fulton grew up in Scotland the isle of Arran, spending almost four decades on both sides of the Highland Line. His father’s people were from the Borders, his mother’s from Sutherland and Caithness. He attended primary school on Arran and in Glasgow, secondary school at Golspie in Sutherland, and took an M.A. and Ph.D. at Edinburgh University. He has been a resident of Norway for three decades, living in a way on both sides of the North Sea.


     Between 1967 and 1976, Fulton edited Lines Review and associated books, and he held the Writers’ Fellowship at Edinburgh University from 1969 to 1989. A Selected Poems in 1980 gathered work from five early collections and was followed by numerous other collections. 

     Fulton has also translated many poems from Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, and his own poetry has appeared in Swedish, Spanish, German, Hebrew and Chinese. For his translation he has won the Artur Lundqvist translation award in 1977, and the Swedish Academy translation award in 1978 and 1998. Most recently he has translated the complete poems of poet Tomas Tranströmer.

    He has also published two books of criticism.

    In the last few years he has written under the name Robin Fulton Macpherson.




Instances (Edinburgh: Macdonald, 1967); Inventories (Thurso: Caithness Books, 1969); The Spaces between the Stones (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1971); The Man with the Surbahar (Edinburgh: Macdonald, 1971); Tree-Lines (New York: New Rivers Press, 1974); Between Flights (Egham, Surrey, England: Interim Press, 1976); Selected Poems 1963-1978 (Edinburgh: Macdonald, 1980); Following a Mirror (London: Oasis Books, 1980); Fields of Focus (London: Anvil Press, 1982); Coming Down to Earth…(London: Oasis Books/Plymouth, England: Shearsman Books, 1990); From a High Window (London: Oasis Books, 2002); Homing (London: Oasis, 2003); Supplement to Poetry Scotland (Callandar: 2003); A Northern Habitat: Collected Poems 1960-2010 (as Robin Fulton Macpherson) (Marick Press, 2013); Unseen Islands and Other Poems (Marick Press 2019); Arrivals of Light (Shearsman Books, 2020)



╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English



As In


an afterlife. Brick walls repointed

how often, a few trees recognised

now large-scale, décor inside so-so,

as in my time, meant to look not old

not new. In a gap between moments

that threatens never to close again

I have no present tense. There’s no room

left in the past for more of the past.

Much has fallen into the future,

which never stops containing nothing.

It’s an oyster-catcher – screeching out

of a present tense which leaves no space

for past or future – that breaks apart

this afterlife I’m no longer in.

Once more I’m hurrying towards it.




Reprinted from Painted, spoken, no. 8 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Robin Fulton.

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