Shortlisted for the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection
A noctuary is a diary for the late hours. In Niall Campbell’s poems, this is a time for reflection, discovering what it means to be a young father, anxious, caring and protective, deeply connected to the new, precious life of another human being. The deftly lyrical poems in his second collection illuminate a night world of disturbed sleep and half dream, midnight feeds, the quiet of snowfall through the hours of dark. At the same time the grown man now living in the city reconnects with his own childhood on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, the territory of his highly praised first collection, Moontide. Hearing his father’s voice in how he calls to his son, other images of the island’s seascapes, myths and wildlife return to him in Noctuary.
‘A noctuary is a night journal and many of the poems here feel as if they have been written in the strange, dreamlike state between sleeping and waking… Campbell's [poems] are careful, crafted, lyrical.’ – Roger Cox, Scotland on Sunday
‘Many of Campbell’s fine poems are ruminations on the difficulties and rewards of new fatherhood. And, to shamelessly plunder a much-overused critical conceit, they are irresistibly luminous, which is to say that they give off a steady light in introspection. A city-dweller originally from the remote Hebridean island of South Uist, Campbell perceives relationships through the kaleidoscopic glass of landscapes current and remembered...In truth, there is so much of enduring value in Noctuary that the reader struggles to climb out of the amniotic water.’ – Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times
‘Written from his new home in Leeds, Campbell records with lyrical beauty and tenderness the experience of young fatherhood. He draws on the seascapes, myths and wildlife of South Uist, the island where he grew up which featured heavily in Moontide, his debut collection and recipient of the Saltire First Book of the Year Award and the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.’ – The Island Review [featuring two poems from Noctuary]
'Full of striking moments, the poems of Moontide are illuminated by powerful lyric impulses.' – David Wheatley, Guardian, on Moontide
'In his understated debut collection, Campbell, who spent his childhood on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, draws on an intimately known landscape as witness to solitude and shared lives.' – Maria Crawford, Financial Times, Summer books 2014, on Moontide
'With precise language, musicality and insight, Campbell’s first collection explores solitude, companionship and memory against a backdrop of closely observed nature. His intimate poems draw on the seascapes and myths of his native Eriskay, in the Outer Hebrides, but take the same sharp-focused eye to other places, too... Meditative and haunting – my favourite poetry book of 2014 so far' – Juanita Coulson, The Lady, on Moontide