Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
If it were not for Carcanet, my library would be unbearably impoverished.
Louis de Bernieres

Selected Poems

Donald Davie

Edited by Michael Schmidt

Foreword by Sinead Morrissey

Categories: 20th Century, British
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (144 pages)
(Due Dec 2022)
9781800172906
£12.99 £11.69
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • To mark the centenary of Donald Davie's birth, Carcanet publishes a new Selected Poems drawn from the full trajectory of his poetry and showing his skills as lyric, satirical, elegiac, epistolary and philosophical poet. He was, par excellence, the engaged poet of our time, not in the pre-emptive manner of protest poets, though he is political and does protest. But he is a poet of English perspectives, refracted through historical and theological mediation.

    And he loved the writing of Ezra Pound in all its suggestive contradiction. Pound challenged him to try longer forms, to break away from the discrete lyric and to use poetry for the most compelling and complex themes. His passion was for our common language, its registers and tonalities, what it can do responsibly and where it can go only at its peril.

    Sinéad Morrissey introduces this new selection, prepared by his long-term editor and friend Michael Schmidt. Davie developed some of the most dependable ways into the heart of Modernism – American, Irish, British, Continental. Davie's poems are themselves an index of his directions and an invaluable resource for the contemporary reader and poet.
    Donald Davie
    Born in Barnsley in 1922, Donald Davie served in the Navy and studied at Cambridge, becoming Professor of English at Essex, and later at Stanford and Vanderbilt. In 1988 he returned to England where he died in 1995. Carcanet's uniform Collected Works of Donald Davie includes Collected Poems (1990), Under Briggflatts ... read more
    Michael Schmidt
    Michael Schmidt FRSL, poet, scholar, critic and translator, was born in Mexico in 1947; he studied at Harvard and at Wadham College, Oxford, before settling in England. Among his many publications are several collections of poems and a novel, The Colonist (1981), about a boy’s childhood in Mexico. He is general ... read more
    Sinead Morrissey
    Sinéad Morrissey was born in Northern Ireland in 1972 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Her awards include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (2007), First Prize in the UK National Poetry Competition (2007), the Irish Times Poetry Now Award (2009, 2013) and the T.S. Eliot Prize (2013). In 2016 she received the ... read more
    Awards won by Michael Schmidt Winner, 2016 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem - Sasha Dugdale's 'Joy', published in PN Review 227  (PN Review 227 )
    Awards won by Sinead Morrissey Short-listed, 2021  The Pigott Poetry Prize
    (Found Architecture)
    Winner, 2020 The Gdansk European Poet of Freedom Literary Award (On Balance) Winner, 2017 The Forward Prize for Best Collection (On Balance) Winner, 2017 Poetry Book Society Choice (On Balance) Short-listed, 2017 The Costa Poetry Award (On Balance) Short-listed, 2018 The Pigott Poetry Prize
    (On Balance)
    Short-listed, 2018 The 2018 Roehampton Poetry Prize
    (On Balance)
    Winner, 2009 T.S Eliot Prize
    (The State of the Prisons)
    Winner, 2014 Irish Times Poetry Now Award
    (Parallax)
    Winner, 2013 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry (Parallax) Short-listed, 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection (Parallax) Joint winner, 2005 Michael Hartnett Award for Poetry
    (The State of the Prisons)
    Short-listed, 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize
    (The State of the Prisons)
    Winner, 2002 Rupert and Eithne Strong Award
    (Between Here and There)
    Winner, 2002 MaCaulay Fellowship
    Short-listed, 2002 T.S. Eliot Prize
    (Between Here and There)
    Winner, 1996 An Eric Gregory Award
    (There Was Fire In Vancouver)
    Winner, 1990 Patrick Kavanagh Award Short-listed, 2005 Irish Times Poetry Prize
    (The State of the Prisons)
    Short-listed, 2005 John Llewellyn Rhys Commonwealth Literature Prize
    (The State of the Prisons)
    Winner, 2005 Poetry Book Society Recommendation
    (The State of the Prisons)
    Winner, 2007 Lannan Literary Fellowship
    Winner, 2009   Poetry Book Society Choice
    (Through the Square Window)
    Praise for Donald Davie 'He has drawn a map of modernism, starting with Hardy and Pound, that remains one of the definitive outlines of twentieth-century experiment in form and language. The mapmaker, in this case,is a notable locus on the map.'
    Helen Vendler
    `These poems thrive on the restless energy that drives their author on from form to form and place to place. Few poets are more likely than Davie to persuade new readers that poetry can still be a matter of concern and pleasure.'
    Martin Dodsworth, The Guardian
    'In his criticism, he has drawn a map of modernism, starting with Hardy and Pound, that remains one of the definitive outlines of twentieth-century experiment in form and language.'
    Helen Vendler
    Praise for Michael Schmidt 'Its pleasures are longer term ones: as you return to it and re-read its substantial selections, you come to appreciate how and what each contributor is working on.'

    Jane Routh, The North 66

    '...this is the joy of New Poetries VIII: time and again you discover refreshing and compelling new styles and subjects'

    Jake Morris-Campbell, The Poetry School

    '...probably the most informative and entertaining poetry journal in the English-speaking world.'
    John Ashbery
     'The most engaged, challenging and serious-minded of all the UK's poetry magazines.'
    Simon Armitage
    'It has attempted to take poetry out of the backwaters of intellectual life and to find in it again the crucial index of cultural health.'
    Cairns Craig, Times Literary Supplement
    Praise for Sinead Morrissey 'Morrissey's telling of ... life is beautifully done, with no sentimentality or mawkishness [...] A brilliant book.'

    The High Window

    'stunning, accessible poems'

    Damian Smyth, Belfast Telegraph


     'On Balance demonstrates that poems, far from being an obsolete technology, were never just mnemonic machines in the first place: they were always simply the perfect instrument for human voices, both living and (un)dead.'

    Ange Mlinko, LRB
     'Propulsive, compelling, melding narrative and lyric, Morrissey's poetry combines deep feeling with a probing, philosophical intelligence.'
    The Poetry Review
     'Northern Irish poetry looks like it's about to take centre stage again, and the woman leading the charge is Sinead Morrissey.'
    Cork Evening Echo Best Books of 2017
     'A game-changing volume of poems in her shining career.'
    Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature at Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast Telegraph
    An Irish Times Book of the Year 2017     'Sinead Morrissey's On Balance is a book of poetry that embraces the art of fiction, and that makes you think about the world being off kilter, of suspension, of what might be required to have balance. Amazing. And the deserving winner of the Forward Prize this year.' 
    Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, Herald Scotland Books of the Year 2017
    'Sinead Morrissey's On Balance was a worthy winner of the 2017 Forward Prize. A celebration of resourcefulness, from motherhood to the first woman to build an aeroplane, its language is as poised as the acrobats it catches.'
    Jeremy Noel-Tod, from the Sunday Times Book of the Year 2017
    'The poem Nativity, if it stood alone, makes Sinead Morrissey's On Balance a sweet Christmas choice, but it is only one of a number of thought-provoking poems in her sixth, prize-winning collection. Morrissey floats the reader glimpses of desires unmet, memories still fluid; the stories swim beyond the edge of the page, buoyed up by possibility.'
    Hilary Mantel, from the Guardian 'Books of the Year' 2017
      'I've always leaned on poetry as something more thrilling than...well, almost anything - religion, for instance. The older I get, the more essential poetry seems and, alas, the converse for the latter. Two books from this year give further proof of this: Sinéad Morrissey's starry poetic engineering in On Balance (Carcanet) and Michael Longley's angelic Angel Hill (Jonathan Cape), which was also proof, maybe, that Homer never died. Northern Ireland's poets continue to outstare miserable politics and offer instead the better firearms of beauty and truth.'
    Sebastian Barry, from the New Statesman 'Books of the Year 2017'
      'Poet Sinéad Morrissey gains power with each collection. She's one of those generous writers whose images and structures open so invitingly that your response is to grab a pen and write back to her: in other words, an inspiration.'
    Hilary Mantel, from the TLS 'Books of the Year 2017'
      'I can't not mention Sinéad Morrissey - a wide-ranging, capacious, brilliant and entirely satisfying collection of poems that will be read many decades hence.'
    Andrew Marr, from the New Statesman 'Books of the Year 2017'

     'Morrissey is possessed of her own invigorating brand of Irish fluency and an imagination that never closes.'
    Kate Kellaway, Guardian
    'Morrissey's clarity and confidence mean that On Balance approaches each of her subjects with great fluency and command.'
    The Irish Times
    'The outstanding poet of her generation.'
    Stephen Knight, Independent
     'In a year of brilliantly themed collections, the judges were unanimous in choosing Sinéad Morrissey's Parallax as the winner. Politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests.'
    Ian Duhig, Chair of the 2013 T S Eliot Prize Judges
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog PN Review 266: Editorial read more Ian Pople: Spillway: New and Selected Poems read more Peter Sansom: Lanyard read more PN Review 265: Under the Cover with Gregory O'Brien read more PN Review 265: Editorial read more Patrick Worsnip: On Translating Saba read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2022 Carcanet Press Ltd