Freight Books Freight Books
Killochries by Jim Carruth

Format: Paperback, B Format, 198 x 129mm, 144pp

ISBN Code: 978-1-908754-91-2
Jim Carruth

Jim Carruth was born in 1963 in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, and grew up on his family’s farm near Kilbarchan.

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by Jim Carruth


Shortlisted for the Saltire Society Literary Award 2015 in Poetry
Shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Award 
Shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection 2016

Killochries is a stunning verse novella, tracking the relationship of two very different men working a remote sheep farm over the course of twelve months.

A young man is sent to work on at Killochries, a sheep farm belonging to a relative, after burning out in the city. He is appalled by the absence of his previous life’s essentials, by the remote strangeness of this new world.

The old farmer has never left the hills; has farmed them all his life. He doesn’t care for the troubles of the modern world, trusting only in God., and greets the incomer with taciturn indifference.

As the winter breaks, so does their silence, drawing them closer through tragedy and the young man’s burgeoning understanding of this rural life. The young man discovers that what he thought uncouth, primitive, has a language and a depth that all the knowledge of modern world could not prepare him for.

Despite being Scotland’s leading rural poet, and Glasgow’s official Makar (or Poet Laureate), and having won a clutch of poetry awards, this is Jim Carruth’s first formal collection. An innovative poetry novel, Killochries is a major achievement from one of Scotland’s most important and influential voices.

Praise for Killochries

‘A novel in verse that is artistically successful and highly satisfying… Carruth’s sparse verses evoke the permanence and certainty of a lifestyle that has remained almost unchanged for millennia, but also the harsh and unforgiving aspects of a life spent in communion with nature.’ Herald

‘Carruth’s stanza’s are so spare they feel almost skeletal at times, but the paring and whittling has been carefully, masterfully done… who better to puncture the myth of the pastoral idyll for unenlightened city dwellers than a man who obviously understands both the hardships of the farming life, and its hard-won delights?’ Scotland on Sunday

‘A stunning collection that conjures up an unlikely meeting of minds, and an unsentimental glimpse into hill-farming life.’ The Lady

‘I loved this poem. The poetry is terse and deeply felt, and the story unfolds inside it, as many linked fragments of record and observation as if written in a notebook over the course of a year.’ Vulpes Libris

Killochries is storytelling and poetry cut to the bone. Austere territory of both the soul and the landscape, it is bleak and biblical. Almost outside time, Jim Carruth’s narrative tells of two men on a hill farm. Made from short fragments, each one bright and sharp – the whole thing creates a powerful mosaic which is ultimately redemptive and moving. A first collection of real distinction.’ Bernard MacLaverty author of Lamb, Cal and Grace Notes

‘The atheist-poet-narrator escapes from a troubled life to work for a year on a lonely hill-farm with its God-fearing farmer. Spare, short-lined poems tell of two men, a blind, bedridden old mother, collies, hens, two cows, a flock of sheep, and a fox. The farmer owns one book, with a powerful presence: the King James Bible. Respect grows between the men. A beautiful collection which lingers in the reader’s mind.’ Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales

‘In Killochries Jim Carruth is almost as sparing in his use of words as the old hill farmer who is one of the book’s principal characters. And yet, describing the seasons of one year, and the relationship between the old man and his young relative, the poet’s thrifty and careful language builds a rich, full picture of a way of life fast disappearing; of a hard, dutiful faith shaped by weather and landscape; of men who grudgingly, gradually move from antagonism to mutual respect; and of a humanity articulated through actions, not words… Killochries is an impressive achievement.’ James Robertson, The Testament of Gideon Mack, And the Land Lay Still and The Professor of Truth.

‘It’s rare to see a poetry collection that makes you yearn to see its screenplay… worthy of comparison to Heaney in particular. Not even Seamus, however, quite managed the lucidity and tightness of narrative evident here.’ The Interpreter’s House

Killochries is a remarkable and moving book.’ Magma Poetry

‘Evocative, lush… the narrator’s slow walk towards a sense of peace makes this collection a remarkable read.’ Scottish Review of Books

‘This is a poet with a strong reputation, so far based on a small body of published work. The book holds you in its strong, consistent narrative voice. I was gripped by the unfolding development of character and scene, all the way through… the publisher Freight Books should be congratulated on making their own decisions on what their customers might read.’ Northwords Now

‘The beautiful, hard, spare lines perform the work of a much longer novel… Carruth bravely shows that nature, poetry and belief can combine to make life better, while avoiding the pretense that all will be well.’ Saltire Society 

‘It’s really beautiful poetry and I took great delight in that and if you enjoy words and a good story as well then that’s one I’d recommend.’ Rev. Ruth Scott on Claire Balding’s Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2

‘Jim Carruth’s Killochries wears a gentle masculinity on its tweed sleeves as it slowly unfolds the relationship between shepherd and land and between two family members.’ Jo Bell, Morning Star 

‘How relevant is the genre in the 21st century? In the Glasgow Makar’s gnarly hands, powerfully so.’ DURA 

‘Spare, sharp, bold, innovative, touching – Killochries is a major achivement from one of Scotland’s most important and influential voices.’ Crunch Poetry

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