About Douglas Dunn
Douglas Dunn (b. 1942) was awarded an OBE in 2003 for his services to literature over a career that includes many books of plays, poems, essays and fiction, as author and editor, and awards such as the Hawthornden Prize, the Cholmondely Award, and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for Elegies, probably his best-known work. He also writes for various journals and newspapers, and taught at the University of St Andrews from 1989 to 2008.
The intimate lyrics of Elegies are addressed to the memory of the poet's first wife, who died in 1981 - "too ill, too quick", as 'France' has it. This collection of powerful, tender poems of mourning is justly celebrated; Kate Kellaway, for example, has written that she "found it hard to read without weeping." In these poems , the tragedy is presented in the form of windows full of commiserating flowers, of empty rooms, of (in 'Empty Wardrobes') "The clothes she gave as keepsakes to friends," and this the poignancy of this presentation shows the power of formal and emotional restraint.
Dunn's other work embraces a wide range of material, including openly political address, celebrations of working class life, and a cheerful eulogy to the inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax. The reading concludes with a pair of poems that he tells his listeners were written out of, firstly, "teenage sexual angst" and a second out of "late middle-aged sexual angst".
The work read on this recording shows Dunn to be a poet drawn to the musical effects of formal verse, particularly - and appropriately - in 'Loch Music', in which he hears "the rhythms of a loch" in a recording of Bach, "And what I hear is what I see / A summer night's divinity". His 1993 collection, Dante's Drum-Kit, is named for terza rima, the metrical form of interlinking rhymes used in Dante's Divine Comedy and in the extract from Dunn's poem 'Disenchantments' on this recording.
Dunn has said, in an interview, that he tells his students a good poem should work in the mind, in the heart and in the ear, and that "The reader has a right to expect these three things simultaneously." In this warm and well-balanced performance, his work can be heard, felt and understood at one and the same time.
His recording was made for the Poetry Archive on 8 August 2007 at Bona Broadcasting Ltd, Edinburgh, and was produced by Turan Ali.
1968 Eric Gregory Award
1970 Scottish Arts Council Book Award
1972 Somerset Maugham Award
1975 Scottish Arts Council Book Award
1976 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize
1981 Hawthornden Prize
1985 Whitbread Book of the Year
1989 Cholmondeley Award
Invisible Ink, Mariscat Press, 2011
Twentieth Century Scottish Poetry edited by Douglas Dunn...Buy
Robert Browning: Poems Selected by Douglas Dunn, Faber...Buy
New Selected Poems 1964-2000, Faber and Faber 2003Buy
Essays, Faber and Faber 2003
The Year's Afternoon, Faber and Faber 2000
The Donkey's Ears, Faber and Faber 2000Buy
The Oxford Book of Scottish Short Stories (editor),...
Boyfriends and Girlfriends, Faber and Faber 1995
Selected Poems: Alaisdair D. F. Macrae, Longman 1993
Dante's Drum Kit, Faber and Faber 1993Buy
Scotland: An Anthology (editor), HarperCollins 1991
The Poll Tax: The Fiscal Fake ('Counterblasts' series),...
Andromache/Racine (translator), Faber and Faber 1990
Northlight, Faber and Faber 1988
Under the Influence: Douglas Dunn on Philip Larkin,...Buy
Going to Aberlemno, Book Trust Scotland 1987
Selected Poems 1964-1983, Faber and Faber 1986
Secret Villages, Faber and Faber 1985
Elegies, Faber and Faber 1985Buy
To Build a Bridge, Lincolnshire and Humberside Arts 1982
Europa's Lover, Bloodaxe 1982
A Rumoured City: New Poets from Hull (editor), Bloodaxe...
St. Kilda's Parliament, Faber and Faber 1981
The Poetry of Scotland (editor), Batsford 1979
Barbarians, Faber and Faber 1979
What Is To Be Given: Poems of Delmore Schwartz (editor...
Love or Nothing, Faber and Faber 1974
A Choice of Byron's Verse (editor), Faber and Faber 1974
New Poetry: The PEN Anthology (editor), Faber and Faber...
The Happier Life, Faber and Faber 1972
Terry Street, Faber and Faber 1969