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A Book of Lives
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Categories: 21st Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (96 pages)
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Is the universe rippling with life? What sign is
there that space is filled
With anything but gas and fire and rock?
Are we the tillers to have it tilled?
I think so! And with these red hands, an act of love?
Why not? We cry but we create, we kill but we build.
from 'Love and the Worlds'
No wonder Edwin Morgan is Scotland's best-loved poet. His poems teem with lives and loves and are marked by an unusual love of the present and the future. He finds forms for themes and ideas just out of reach. In his latest collection poems both profound and witty are to be found: occasional verse that transcends its occasion, explorations of the human condition conducted with a virtuosic lightness of touch. A Book of Lives draws together the themes that inform his poetic world. The largest vistas of human history, from twenty billion years BC to 9/11 and the 'war on terror'; Scotland from Bannockburn to the opening of the Scottish parliament; portraits - of Rimbaud, the emperor Hirohito, Raeburn's skating Reverend Walker... Poems for birthdays and elegies celebrate friends; a dramatic dialogue about cancer sets personal experience in a wry evolutionary context. At the heart of the collection, a major sequence, 'Love and a Life', affirms the inextinguishable energies of love and art.
Awards won by Edwin Morgan Winner, 2000 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry
Praise for Edwin Morgan 'distinctly and excitingly nonconformist [...] they stunningly convey the poet's love for Glasgow. The traditional structure is interjected with Scottish language and anecdotes, making it a thought-provoking read.'
'A broad celebration of one of the most lively and creative writers of his time'
Mike Ferguson, Stride Magazine
'For readers new to Morgan, it forms a perfect introduction, showcasing his fearless experimentation... For those who already know Morgan's work, this selection is a welcome romp of rediscovery. It offers a reminder that he masters every form - from sonnets to strict rhyme schemes with free rhythm to the disintegrating word curtains of some of his early concrete poems - and gilds them all with the humour and humanity that infuse his own effervescent voice.... He never shrinks from the darkness but the shimmering beauty of his words somehow makes it more bearable.'
Fiona Rintoul, The Herald
'Thank God, thank whatever all-seeing quick-witted deity you like, we have Edwin Morgan to show us how to live, and keep living..."pleasure" is nowhere strong enough to convey the joyous energy of his work.'
'Edwin Morgan's translation of twent-five poems into Scots, now reissued after almost half a century, finesses one difficulty by substituting another. Wi Haill Voice gives Mayakovsky a shout from the streets without making him a Dickensian exercised in dialect - Scots provides the necessary sense of estrangement.'
William Logan, The New Criterion
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