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Out of the Ordinary

Popular Scottish poet Kenneth Steven has a brand new collection of poems based on everyday sights and experiences. Deeply rooted in the landscape of his native Highland Scotland and in his love of the Celtic Christian story, natural and spiritual images abound and the interplay between them makes Steven's poetry at once local and universal, the small and familiar revealing a glimpse of a vast and hidden divine reality.

Here's how Kenneth describes his new collection:

It's always exciting when a new book finally arrives. This was all the more of a joy after the long months of lock-down. Like many of my other collections, Out of the Ordinary is published by Saint Andrew Press, now based in London. Many of the poems are deeply concerned with the natural world; many are inspired by the Celtic Christian story. 

Out of the Ordinary is made up of moments: the kind of strange and unexpected happenings that happen to all of us, that change our lives - suddenly and sometimes for ever.

The poem below was written on Iona but it's looking out from the island and back towards the island of Mull. At this time of year this part of the Scottish west coast is almost heartbreakingly beautiful: the days can be grim and wild, but when the light comes your breath is taken away by its sheer power and wonder.


The year's door shuts. The last red berries fall
and leave the rowan branches bare and dark
when in the night the wind begins to lift.
The sea booms white and huge; a ledge of snow
hallows the ben's bare head. And then
it's still: stars breathe the blue-black sky like brine.
The only colour left next day is grey
except when sudden sunlight comes to glow
the granite headland out across the sound,
firing the rubbled rock a bonfire orange bright
so all there is to do is stand and watch
as though some miracle were being born
and God was speaking through the stone once more -
that strange and still small voice of calm alive.

About the Author

KENNETH STEVEN has published 14 volumes of poetry in all, this is his seventh collection with Saint Andrew Press. He is a frequent speaker at Scottish literary festivals and has written and presented numerous poetry programmes for BBC Radio.

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