‘I am moved and fascinated by Stephen Watts’s poetry in ways I find hard to explain and extraordinarily powerful to experience. He is among the most fine and subtle writers I know on the relations of landscape and mind.’ Robert MacFarlane
Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds is the first book-length prose text by poet and translator Stephen Watts. The text was written on a typewriter in the late 1980s, then mislaid and lost. Found again in 2012 it was typed onto a laptop with minimal editing.
The narrative moves between London’s Isle of Dogs and Scotland’s Western Isles, where Watts lived and worked as a shepherd. It is both a topographical journey through two landscapes and a highly personal meditation on the history and memory of these locations. Watts is interested in the changing landscape of London’s East End: the destruction of working-class culture and its collective memory and the pace of urban development and regeneration. The writing is itself a form of activism, memorialising a lost culture through its physical traces and the stories and voices of its inhabitants.
Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds is a vital and significant text by one of the most astute and sensitive writers of the relationship between landscape and memory. Stephen Watts’s distinct and illuminating poetic sensibility combines a fierce honesty, rooted in reality, with a beautiful and imaginative lyricism.