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New Collected Poems
Edited by Michael Schmidt
Categories: 20th Century, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (401 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2002)
She kept an antique shop - or it kept her.
Among Apostle spoons and Bristol glass,
The faded silks, the heavy furniture,
She watched her own reflection in the brass
Salvers and silver bowls, as if to prove
Polish was all, there was no need of love.
And I remember how I once refused
To go out with her, since I was afraid.
It was perhaps a wish not to be used
Like antique objects. Though she never said
That she was hurt, I still could feel the guilt
Of that refusal, guessing how she felt.
Later, too frail to keep a shop, she put
All her best things in one narrow room.
The place smelt old, of things too long kept shut,
The smell of absences where shadows come
That can't be polished. There was nothing then
To give her own reflection back again.
And when she died I felt no grief at all,
Only the guilt of what I once refused.
I walked into her room among the tall
Sideboards and cupboards - things she never used
But needed; and no finger marks were there,
Only the new dust falling through the air.
Does history tell stories? from 'Concerning History'
Yes, if the poet listens carefully. Elizabeth Jennings listens carefully, through spiritual, emotional and mental turbulence. She has created an abidingly popular body of poetry, using traditional forms with experimental vigour, keeping her spirit attuned to her art and language. Her vocation is praise, as a lover praises the things made, the makers and the maker.
New Collected Poems incorporates her award winning 1986 Collected Poems, adding from the poems she wrote in the next fifteen years. In that time she found new themes and styles, exploring by means of the verse-essay, the extended sequence, the epistle and love elegy. When experience is extreme, poetry for her is never exorcism, always sacrament, a sharing, a way back form the edge, not over it. As a critic in Every Changing Shape she insisted on continuities in the language if poetry, its contingencies. 'Poets work upon and through each other,' she declared. Within her own work these continuities are brilliant are brilliantly in evidence.
Awards won by Michael Schmidt Winner, 2016 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem - Sasha Dugdale's 'Joy', published in PN Review 227 (PN Review 227 )
Praise for Elizabeth Jennings 'Anyone who likes poetry will love it if you get them Carcanet's Collected Poems of Elizabeth Jennings. It costs a bit but you do get well over 1,000 poems, with barely a duff one; heck, you could even give it to someone who doesn't like poetry, and suggest it will change their mind.'
Nicholas Lezard, the Guardian, 1st December, 2012
'But there is no sterility here: I defy you to read "A Living Death" and not be on the verge of tears by the end of it ("I am caught up / Within a death that does not die") This is a supremely dippable-into book. Its bulk is liberating, not intimidating.'
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, Tuesday 3rd April, 2012.
'Offers a broad selection of her best work ... in all its tenderness, insight and acute, stepping-on-ice vulnerability'
Michael Glover, The Tablet.
'it contains some of the finest lyric poetry of the 20th century'
Anne Stevenson, The Sunday Times, September 14th 1986
Praise for Michael Schmidt '...probably the most informative and entertaining poetry journal in the English-speaking world.'
John Ashbery 'The most engaged, challenging and serious-minded of all the UK's poetry magazines.'
Simon Armitage 'It has attempted to take poetry out of the backwaters of intellectual life and to find in it again the crucial index of cultural health.'
Cairns Craig, Times Literary Supplement
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