Egill Skallagrimsson was the most original, imaginative and technically brilliant of the Old Norse skalds, poets whose orally composed and performed verses were as much revered in ninth- to thirteenth-century Scandinavia as heroism in battle. Egill's saga details his life-story as well as those of his immediate predecessors, from whom he inherited his massive build, his early baldness (Skalla in his name means 'bald') and his exceptional ugliness. An arch enemy of Erikr Bloodax, he was a notoriously difficult man and, as many of the poems demonstrate, was lethal when crossed. But he also made poems which show he was capable of concern for others, as well as romantic love. Physical, direct, inventive, even transformative, Egill's poetry conjures up a territory far beyond the normal scope of language, something that only the finest poets achieve.
Ian Crockatt has published several collections of his own poetry. Original Myths, which includes etchings by the Scottish artist Paul Fleming, was short-listed for the Saltire Society's Scottish Book of the Year Award in 2000. He has been a prizewinner in a number of national literary competitions, and was awarded Writer's Bursaries by the Scottish Arts Council in 2004 and 2008. He has just completed a PhD thesis at Aberdeen University, focusing on the translation of Old Norse skaldic poetry.Ian Crockatt won the prestigious 2013 Schlegel-Tieck Society of Authors Prize (for translation into English of a full-length German work of literary merit) for his translation of selected poems by Rilke (Arc 2011).