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Country For Old Men and My Canadian Uncle

Iain Crichton Smith

Cover Picture of Country For Old Men and My Canadian Uncle
Categories: 20th Century, Canadian, Scottish
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • He spoke as if from the other side of death
    quite clearly and quite impressively.
    I think from your side it is tragedy
    but from my side here it's really comedy
    dry, not furious but temperate...


    from 'He Spoke'

                 
    Shortly before his death in 1998, Iain Crichton Smith wrote to his publisher with a manuscript. 'I am sending you this in case anything happens.' A Country for Old Men was the book, typed in his usual erratic way, and including - the title's tribute to Yeats - the exceptional final fruits of one of the most impassioned and moving of the Scottish poets of this century. Smith was always unusual in his ability to play the whole poetic instrument, without apologies, without stylistic ironies.

    'We move at random on an innocent journey', he wrote in one of his most celebrated poems, and this innocence remains the hallmark of his last poems. His human and his poetic task was to take randomness and give it significant form, one that draws answering forms from history and legend.

    His narrative and dramatic poem My Canadian Uncle is much earlier than A Country for Old Men and represents the poet's ambitious experiments with form, especially those forms which seem to bridge the gap between the poetic, prose narrative and drama.


    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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