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Selected Poems

Donald Davie

Edited by Sinead Morrissey

Foreword by Sinead Morrissey

Cover of Selected Poems by Donald Davie
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Categories: 20th Century, British
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (132 pages)
(Pub. Dec 2022)
9781800172906
£12.99 £11.69
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(Pub. Dec 2022)
9781800172913
£10.39 £9.35
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • This new selection of Donald Davie's poems spans six decades. It traces his protean trajectory from austere beginnings to riskier dislocations of shape and syntax, through to his extended late-meditations on form, content, and spirit. To apply his own critical definition of syntax, his is a poetic of articulate energy, the restless redistribution of force – an abiding resource and inspiration.
    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
    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 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)
    'From the publication of his debut collection of poems in 1955 until his passing in 1995, Donald Davie enjoyed a doubly excellent reputation as a critic and a poet... Sinéad Morrissey's Selected Poems gives an admirably rounded picture of his work and guides the reader through the editor's well-judged inclusions with a succinct introduction.'
    N.S. Thompson, The TLS
    'This is very unusual, essential and distinctive poetry of a kind we so often don't see. Davie had a well developed sense of his own outlook and it does come through in quite complex and multifaceted ways.'
    Clark Allison, Stride Magazine
    'This is a sampler of one of the major poets of the last generation that has been assembled by leaning into the proclivities of one of the major poets of our own... if you have read none of Davie's poetry before, you have a small, perfectly formed, ever-expanding universe to explore.'
    Rory Waterman, The Friday Poem

    'This is an accessible exploration of Davie's work. And it makes me want to read more, so this taster selection clearly works. It is an important reminder of the great writer he was, and how relevant he still is, nearly thirty years after his death. Morrissey's introduction is clear-eyed and intelligent, a perfect primer'
    James Nash, Everybody's Reviewing
    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 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
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