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.
‘Following on from the inky darkness of Niall Campbell’s first collection Moontide (2014), set by the shores of the Outer Hebrides, Noctuary is a homage to night-time, to "that midnight thrill of being alive", to the small, stray moments that make up a life. It is also a passionately tender examination of what it means to have and care for a small child.’ – Suzannah V. Evans, Times Literary Supplement
‘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]
'I like to think of this collection almost like a night light in itself - a little glimmer/flicker of hope in the dark.' – Jen Campbell, speaking about Niall Campbell's Noctuary to Sarah Brett, BBC Radio 5 Live