The Touch of Time: New & Selected Poems is a comprehensive retrospective, drawing on ten previous books published over the last five decades, including his prize-winning 2010 collection The Breakfast Room, and concluding with a selection of new poems.


He reappears dishevelled as ever,
still believing his purloined quill
decorates my inkwell. Awkwardly

flopping he struts the window-sill,
blotting out the light as I work away,
doing my best to ignore him, not easy

given the constant krawing at my ear,
until giving up on me, with a venomous
gleam in his eye he winks meaningfully

at his minders on the fruit-trees, then
drawing attention to his missing pinion
launches himself lopsidedly into the air,

leaving me to continue in more orderly
fashion, while he and his brigand band
get on with hauling the sun across the sky.

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The new work pursues themes established in his earlier Bloodaxe collections Stolen Light: Selected Poems (1999), Ghosts at Cockcrow (2005) and The Breakfast Room (2010). With what Carla Sassi sees as ‘his thoughtful attention to small details, his redeeming gaze, his formal control of impeccably constructed verses, and his deep and warm humanity’, he movingly explores everyday events and revelations and how – like our lives and those of our loved ones – they are transformed by time.

He is a poet of moments and movements... There is frozen clarity, a fragile force of nature revealing the acceptable, concealing the menacing... The wonderful poems in The Luncheon of the Boating Party remain personal favourites. Their contained moments of empathy with Renoir are remarkable. — Hayden Murphy, Sunday Herald

Stewart Conn's The Touch of Time is a welcome and substantial gathering from ten books of poems published over fifty years.  Recurrent themes include his delight in daily serendipities, his love of rural ways and his recognition of mortality.  His love poems written in maturity can be exquisite (while) his interest in history and myth is balanced by a healthy recognition of contemporary political and class tension. These are among the reasons Douglas Dunn celebrated Conn the craftsman as one 'among the indispensable poets' of modern Scotland. — Tony Roberts, Agenda