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Old 04-18-2002, 05:21 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Fargo ND, USA
Posts: 13,807

Intro to Dick Davis

Dick Davis was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1945, and educated at the universities of Cambridge (B.A. and M.A. in English Literature) and Manchester (PhD. in Medieval Persian Literature). He has taught at the universities of Tehran (Iran), Durham (U.K.), Newcastle (U.K.), and
California (Santa Barbara) and is currently Professor of Persian at Ohio State University. He lived for 8 years in Iran, as well as for periods in Greece and Italy. He worked for some years as a freelance writer and during this period published c. 150 articles and reviews in the British national press. As author, translator or editor, he has produced 18 books; as well as academic works he has published translations from Italian (prose) and Persian (prose and verse) and six books of poetry, including his forthcoming Belongings (Swallow Press, US., Anvil Press, UK). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature at the tender age of 35, and his other awards and distinctions are too numerous to mention.

In 1994 Dick Wilbur introduced me to the work of Tim Steele, who sent me Dick Davis’ selected poems, Devices and Desires. I wrote to Tim and said “It strikes me as very unfair to Tims that the Muse is so nice to Dicks.” Davis is a shy, retiring poet who is little known in this country, but he’s certainly the finest British poet of his generation whom I have been fortunate enough to encounter. And he’s the most important translator of Persian poetry we have. Dick excels at the sonnet (see the thread I'll initiate at Mastery). He (and we) will examine a number of sonnets by Eratosphere members during his tenure as our guest Lariat. We'll start posting next week.
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Old 04-19-2002, 05:53 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Fargo ND, USA
Posts: 13,807

I've made some large claims for Dick Davis in the intro post. The reason I esteem him above any other poet of my generation is that he conveys emotion with greater power than any of us. Consider this autobiographical poem from his fifth book, Touchwood:

Into Care

Here is a scene from forty years ago:
A skinny sniveling child of three or so

Sits on a table, naked and shamefaced.
A woman dabs his body to the waist

With yellow pungent ointment and he feels
Her shock as she remarks,'Look at the weals

On this boy's back.' Her colleague steps across:
Gently she touches him. He's at a loss

To think what kind of 'wheels' she sees, but knows
That here at least there will be no more blows.

Or this, from the page opposite:


Insomnia: I get up, read, then write,
A bit of consciousness alone at night.
The house is cold; after an hour or two
I stumble back to darkness, warmth and you.
You are asleep but as I gingerly
Edge into bed, you turn to welcome me:
No comfort I have known in any place
Can equal that oblivious embrace.
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Old 05-01-2002, 06:21 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
Lariat Emeritus
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Fargo ND, USA
Posts: 13,807

Dick has joined us this morning, giving Mike Juster an exhaustive answer to his good question on the ghazal, and giving us all a lively exposition on Sam Gwynn's brilliant "Shakespearean Sonnet." Tonight I'll post a sonnet by Alicia Stallings for all of us to admire. Welcome, Dick!
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Old 05-08-2002, 12:59 AM
Terese Coe Terese Coe is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 7,377

Tim, thanks for posting Dick Davis' "Comfort." It speaks to me more than "Into Care"; for me the center of the entire poem is L2, which I love: "A bit of consciousness alone at night." Don't you wish more poets wrote about the mystery of consciousness?

Dick's "oblivious embrace" is a fine and fitting way to end that one. Moreover, he's just provoked me to write a short piece about the mystery of consciousness as well! Something I've always wanted to do. Many thanks to both of you.


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