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Virtual and Other Realities

Edwin Morgan

Cover Picture of Virtual and Other Realities
Categories: 20th Century, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • To love you in shadow as in the light
    is light itself. In subterranean night
    you sow the fields with fireflies of delight.
    Lanarkshire holds you, under its grim grass.
    But I hold what you were, like a bright glass
    I carry brimming through the darkening pass.


    from `The Glass'


    In `A Voyage', which opens Edwin Morgan's new book, he takes a cinematic risk, evoking the journey of the human sperm from ejaculation to fertilisation. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1996, the poem opened new possibilities on the air as it does on the page. It belongs with Morgan's poems of space exploration, celebrating the chanciness and heroism of this most primal risk, and with his poetry of science. It also belongs with his love poems, performing a comprehensive synthesis of concerns.

    Three sequences complete this ambitious book. `Beasts of Scotland' was commissioned by the Glasgow International Jazz Festival and set to music by the saxophonist Tommy Smith. Like `The Five-Pointed Star', written for the Burns Bicentenary of 1996, `Beasts' shows how commissioned, occasional poetry can at once honour and transcend its occasion. The title sequence of fifty triplet poems considers the consequences to reality of notions of `virtual reality'. Once again Morgan displays his versatility and his rooted passion for language, for place and for real people living in a modern world that can merit celebration, laughter and (however hard-won) joy. No wonder his work, with its Scottish and European perspectives, is at once sophisticated and popular.
    Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) was born in Glasgow. He served with the RAMC in the Middle East during World War II. He became lecturer in English at the University of Glasgow, where he had studied, and retired as titular Professor in 1980. He was Glasgow's first Poet Laureate and from 2004 until ... read more
    Awards won by Edwin Morgan Winner, 2000 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry
    Praise for Edwin Morgan 'Edwin Morgan's experimental and science fiction poems often imply joyful adventure, boundless optimism.'

    Carol Rumens, The Guardian where 'A Little Catechism' was Poem of the Week

    '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.'

    Scottish Field

      '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.'

    Kathleen Jamie 

     'Edwin Morgan's translation of twenty-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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