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Deer on the High Hills

Selected Poems

Iain Crichton Smith

Edited by John Greening

Cover of Deer on the High Hills by Iain Crichton Smith
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Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (320 pages)
(Pub. May 2021)
9781800170940
£14.99 £13.49
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(Pub. May 2021)
9781800170957
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(Pub. May 2021)
9781800170964
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Growing up on the Isle of Lewis, Iain Crichton Smith spoke only Gaelic until he was five. But at school in Bayble and then Stornoway, everything had to be in English. Like many islanders before and since, his culture is divided: two languages, two histories entailing exile, a central theme of his poetry. His divided perspective sharply delineates the tyranny of history and religion, of the cramped life of small communities; it gives him a tender eye for the struggle of women and men in a world defined by denials.

    Deer on the High Hills: Selected Poems includes forty years' work and proves that big themes - love, history, power, submission, death - can be addressed without the foil of irony and acquire resonance when given a local habitation and a voice that risks pure, impassioned speech. Editor John Greening provides indexes, a preface and an essay on the life and work of this important poet.
    Iain Crichton Smith
    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
    John Greening
    John Greening was brought up near Heathrow, and studied at Swansea, Mannheim and Exeter. Having worked for BBC Radio 3 under Hans Keller, he then joined Voluntary Service Overseas. He and his wife were sent to teach in Aswan, Upper Egypt for two years, and he was awarded the Alexandria Poetry ... read more
    Awards won by John Greening Winner, 2001 TLS Centenary Winner, 1998 Bridport Award Winner, 2008  Cholmondeley Award
    Praise for Iain Crichton Smith  '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
    Praise for John Greening 'A fine collection of verse... constantly fresh and insightful. It is a collection to return to frequently, to immerse oneself in its richness, its darkness, and its felicity of voice'
    David Malcolm, Poetry Salzburg Review
    'It's a loving and inventive meditation on the sources of creative inspiration; the vagaries of artistic confidence... Greening immerses us in the radiant muddle in which Sibelius found himself during the last three decades of his life.'
    Frank Beck, The Manhattan Review
    'Historical encounters are handled with superb formal control, their power coming from the combination of almost surreal imaginative coincidences with a purity of diction'
    William Bedford, The High Window
    'This is an intelligent, satisfying collection and, appropriately for poetry where one of the main subjects is a musician, it is consistently musical'
    Alwyn Marriage, London Grip
     'Beyond the admirable craftsmanship that characterises almost all of his work, one of Greening's great strengths is his historical imagination.'
    Glyn Pursglove
    'Delightfully alert to connections and intersections, to historical ironies... [Greening is] a serious (but never excessively solemn) poet, who cares about both 'facts' and ideas and makes his poetry out of the interpenetration of the two.'
    Glyn Pursglove
    'So to conclude calamity in rest.' In his powerful new collection, John Greening opens lines of communication with poets of the Great War, bridging a century with heart-work of immediacy, economy and humanity.'
    Penelope Shuttle
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