Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for 2020
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
David Constantine is one the finest poets writing in English. His poetry stands outside the current literary climate, and like the work of the European poets who have nourished him, it is informed by a profoundly humane vision of the world. Its mood is often one of unease, elegiac or comically edged, barbed with pain or tinged with pleasure. His poems hold a worried and restless balance between celebration and anxiety, restraint and longing.
His Collected Poems spans three decades, including work from seven previous Bloodaxe titles and two limited editions, as well as a whole collection of new poems. He has since published three later collections, Nine Fathom Deep (2009), Elder (2014) and Belongings (2020).
‘Above all, David Constantine is a “humane” poet – a word often used in connection with his work, as if in noticing and detailing the ways of the world he is doing so on behalf of all that is best in us. For over forty years he has shaped a body of work that stands in comparison with that of any of his contemporaries, not just at home but internationally, navigating and negotiating that space between everyday events and their metaphysical or spiritual “otherness”.’ - Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, on behalf of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry Committee
‘Constantine’s peculiar vision is an uneasy blend of the exquisite and the everyday…the beatific, the ordinary, the rebarbative even, are almost indistinguishable… Overwhelmingly the poems are intelligent and well-turned, setting out the tensions between innocence and experience with fine control’ – Elizabeth Lowry, TLS.
David Constantine reads seven poems
David Constantine reads seven poems from his Collected Poems: ‘New Year Behind the Asylum’, ‘Eldon Hole’, ‘The Wasps’, ’Something for the Ghosts’, ‘Legger’, ‘Common and Particular’ and ‘Watching for Dolphins’. Neil Astley filmed him at his home in Oxford in October 2007. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).
David Constantine: two poems on environmental destruction
David Constantine reads two prophetic poems on environmental destruction, ‘Dominion’ from his Collected Poems and ‘Pity’ from Nine Fathom Deep. Both poems are also included in Neil Astley’s anthologies Earth Shattering: eco poems (2007) and Staying Human: poems for Staying Alive (2020). Neil Astley filmed Constantine reading selections of his poems from his books at his home in Oxford in June 2018. There are separate videos for poems from each of his collections.
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