Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2020
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. In his title-poem – which illuminates the themes of the whole book – the lovers are a utopian answering back against the curse (following a crime against Nature) that is carried by the ship passing above them.
Throughout these poems, the personal life, with its own joys and suffering, asserts itself against a world whose characteristic forces are dispiriting and destructive. Nine Fathom Deep shows how all personal life and all poetry written from it deal with the realities of social and political life in the here and now, assert themselves, fight for survival, and actively seek to make a world in which humane self-realisation would be more and more, not less and less, possible.
‘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
'The past decade has seen a great deal of activity from David Constantine in the fields of translation, short story writing and editing, but although Bloodaxe brought out his Collected in 2004, this is his first new poetry collection since the 2002 Whitbread-shortlisted Something for the Ghosts. Drawing on the sensibilities of the European poets - Goethe, Hölderlin, Brecht - whose work he knows so intimately, Constantine's humane and serious volume weighs the life of the individual against the crash and tumble of the wider world and finds in favour of the subtler forces and complexities of the former.' - Sarah Crown, The Guardian [on Nine Fathom Deep]
'Constantine's exact writing is elemental, sensual and often piercing…these poems are further proof that Constantine is one of the best exponents of free verse this country has produced.' – Stephen Knight, Independent on Sunday [on Nine Fathom Deep]
‘Nine Fathom Deep is a book of considerable authority and unusual seriousness...he is on a quest for clarity in matters of the spirit.’ – John Greening, Times Literary Supplement
David Constantine reads from Nine Fathom Deep
David Constantine read three poems from Nine Fathom Deep: ‘Pity’, ‘Nine Fathom Deep’ and ’Seaweeds’. 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.
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.