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Like the work of the European poets who have nourished him, David Constantine’s poetry is informed by a profoundly humane vision of the world. The title of his eleventh collection, Belongings, signals that these are poems concerned both with our possessions and with what possesses us. Among much else in the word belongings, the poems draw on a sense of our ‘co-ordinates’ – something like the eastings and northings that give a map-reference – how you might triangulate a life. The poems ask: Where do you belong? And have in mind also the hostile: You don’t belong here. Go back where you belong. Many, possibly all, the poems in the collection touch more or less closely on such matters. Perhaps all poetry does, showing a life in its good or bad defining circumstances. In the poem ‘Red’, the defining geography is literal, drawn from an old geological map of Manchester in which Constantine finds ‘the locus itself, a railway cutting / Behind the hospital I was born in’, from which the paths of a life led outward. In other poems the particular becomes universal, a territory holding all our belongings, our memories of the people and the places we hold in our hearts. Behind these explorations another kind of belonging is challenged: our relationship with the planet to which we belong, but which does not belong to us.
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x (d)|
About the Author
David Constantine was born in 1944 in Salford, Lancashire. He read Modern Languages at Wadham College, Oxford, and lectured in German at Durham from 1969 to 1981 and at Oxford from 1981 to 2000. He is a freelance writer and translator, a Fellow of the Queen’s College, Oxford, and was co-editor of Modern Poetry in Translation from 2004 to 2013. He lives in Oxford and on Scilly. He has published ten books of poetry, five translations and a novel with Bloodaxe. His poetry titles include Something for the Ghosts (2002), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award; Collected Poems (2004), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; Nine Fathom Deep (2009); and Elder (2014). His eleventh collection, Belongings, is publshed by Bloodaxe in 2020. His Bloodaxe translations include editions of Henri Michaux and Philippe Jaccottet; his Selected Poems of Hölderlin, winner of the European Poetry Translation Prize, and his version of Hölderlin’s Sophocles, these to be combined in a new expanded Hölderlin edition, Selected Poetry (2018); and his translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s Lighter Than Air, winner of the Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation. His other books include A Living Language: Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures (2004), his translation of Goethe’s Faust in Penguin Classics (2005, 2009), his monograph Poetry (2013) in Oxford University Press’s series The Literary Agenda, and his co-translation (with Tom Kuhn) of The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht (W.W. Norton, 2018). He has published six collections of short stories, and won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2013 for his collection Tea at the Midland (Comma Press), and is the first English writer to win this prestigious international fiction award. Four other short story collections, Under the Dam (2005), The Shieling (2009), In Another Country: Selected Stories (2015) and The Dressing-Up Box (2019), and his second novel, The LIfe-Writer (2015), are published by Comma Press. His story 'Tea at the Midland' won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2010, while 'In Another Country' was adapted into 45 Years, a major film starring Tom Courtney and Charlotte Rampling.