By Dick Davis
“Reading this book in manuscript, I began by jotting down the titles of the best poems, but gave that up when it seemed I might choose them all.”
“His poems are full of fine emotion, intelligence, wit, and multinational culture. He lithely celebrates the legendary rake Casanova; poignantly conjures “Kipling’s Kim, Thirty Years On”; economically reports a father’s aching futility in comforting his child (“A Bit of Paternity”); deftly valorizes the power of art (“Just So”); and often muses on the shortness of life and the limitations of being human, so cogently that a single quatrain can take one’s breath away.”
“A British poet married to an Iranian, Dick Davis teaches Persian literature in the United States. The cultural diversity of his life is reflected in the variety of his poems—in their skillfully handled formal range, in the scope of their subject-matter and in their commitment to an ideal of civilized life shared by many cultures. Belonging is a profound and beautiful collection, which stimulates, dazzles, surprises and delights.”
“I want to go through Belonging quoting handfuls, learning poem after poem by heart.…To read Dick Davis is to be reminded of what poetry used to be, and can still become.”
X. J. Kennedy
There are worlds within our own in which even the smallest victories are hard won, the tender moment is almost unbearable, and the understated rings like a bell. Belonging, a new collection by British poet Dick Davis, is an extended visit to these worlds.
Deepened by his dry wit and the formal rigor of his verse, the poems of Belonging negotiate their way among personal and political divides—generations in a family, man and woman, and the tentative present and our inherited pasts.
But behind much of the writing there is also a desire for a kind of idealized belonging—to a clerisy of civilized and humane decency which can be found intermittently in all cultures and is the monopoly of none. Davis's own cosmopolitan background provides the context for many of the poems, yet he is concerned always to find the humanly universal within the local and anecdotal—a hope realized in these careful and incandescent poems.
Dick Davis was born in Portsmouth, England. He is a professor of Persian at Ohio State University. He has published translations of prose from Italian and poetry and prose from Persian, and six books of his own poetry. His most recent collection, Belonging, was chosen by The Economist as a “Book of the Year” for 2002.
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