SPIRIT MACHINES, Robert Crawford's fourth collection, attends imaginatively to the fusion of spiritual experience and the insistently material world. In several of the poems, emotional and religious insights merge lyrically with modern technologies of information. The title sequence deals with bereavement and memorializes the poet's father, who died in1997, while the serio-comical catechism of 'A Life-Exam' arises from the experience of hospitalisation. The imaginative, 360-line tour de force 'Impossibility' presents a swirling underwater world imaging the heroic struggle of the nineteenth-century writer and mother, Margaret Oliphant. While some of the poems communicate a sense of hurt and loss, others are insuperably comic, giving the collection an ambitious range and vitality. Throughout the book, Robert Crawford's alert sense of Scotland provides a source and sounding-board for poems -lyrics, ballads, verse narratives and prose poems - that are finely nuanced, moving, and excitingly resourceful.
Both fully fledged and broken-winged members of the information age will appreciate how Crawford tackles the subject of modern life, and its impact on this thing we call a soul. Crawford's attention to language and his sense of the individual's place within culture and nation make this collection a valuable addition to the bookshelf.