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The Exiles

Iain Crichton Smith

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Categories: 20th Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Twenty years ago, Iain Crichton Smith said of his work on a BBC programme: 'I have always believed in a poetry which contains fighting tensions and not in a poetry of statement.' This remains the case with his most recent work. The tensions are constant: between English and Gaelic, between mind and body, between his native Lewis and the Highlands where he spent many years, between expectation and reality. He is not a 'nature poet', perhaps - as he himself suggests - 'because I was brought up in close hard contact with it.' The focus is on people, his primary subject.

    The Exiles
    is his first Carcanet collection. The title defines his primary theme, one that obsesses him as it does many others; and though the occasion for many of these poems is exile from a particular place and a particular community, the theme is universal in application and resonance. Here there is imposed and elected exile, with the losses entailed both to the land and to the individual. Another aspect of the theme is 'inner exile', the man who through his vocation or expectations is exiled from his community even as he lives in it.

    The majority of the poems in this book are contained in Iain Crichton Smith's New Collected Poems (2011). 

    Iain Crichton Smith was born in Glasgow in 1928, but his father died of TB before he could know him, and his fiercely Calvinist mother took him back to her native Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. He grew up with his two brothers in the village of Bayble, where ... read more
    Praise for Iain Crichton Smith 'Crichton Smith's work abounds in variety'

    David Hackbridge Johnson, The High Window

    'The wealth of the poems it contains is extraordinary'

    Poetry Salzburg 

     'Over the years [his] poetry has increased in strangeness and beauty. He is a poet of his own discontents, but one who has submitted his unrest to the demands of the imagination.'
    Times Literary Supplement
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Cover of New Collected Poems
New Collected Poems Iain Crichton Smith,
Edited by Matt McGuire
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