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Night by David Harsent

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Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry 2011.

Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2011.

Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin.

After the critically acclaimed Legion, Harsent’s new collection is one of focused visual memory and concentrated characters. There is a natural awareness of the power of images, and each poem creates its own atmosphere of pain, solemnity and non-knowing. Every single word is thought out, and Harsent’s language never fails to disappoint the poems. There are works of poetic genius within this collection: Scene one: A Beach, Broken Glass and the final poem, Elsewhere which is reminiscent of a morality play, but hangs on the sensual modernity of a city at night. The ‘images flow in and flood’ (Night), and often give an overwhelming ambiguity to encounters of loss and solitude. His use of form and rhythm complete Night, and the diversity of themes contained within night and rain are astounding. A remarkable collection indeed.

Click here to visit the Poetry Book Society page for Reading Groups and to download extracts from the T S Eliot Prize shortlist.


Night by David Harsent

Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry 2011.

Among the poems that open Night, David Harsent's follow-up to his Forward Prize-winning collection Legion , is a startling sequence about a garden - but a garden unlike any other. It sets the tone for a book in which the sureties of daylight become uncertain: dark, unsettling narratives about what wakes in us when we escape our day-lit selves to visit a place where the dream-like and the nightmarish are never far apart. The book culminates in the seductive and brilliantly-sustained 'Elsewhere', a noirish, labyrinthine quest-poem in which the protagonist is drawn ever onward through a series of encounters and reflections like an after-hours Orpheus, hard-bitten and harried by memory.


Praise for David Harsent:

‘Truly significant poets write like no one else, and David Harsent is both sui generis and unsurpassed. Taking over where his Forward Prize-winning book Legion left off, Night conducts an examination of the human psyche that is unique in both the unflinchingness of its gaze, and the narrative metaphors it uses to explore dream-life, terror and hidden impulse ... At once disciplined and wild at heart, as linguistically rich as it is visceral, Night is Harsent's finest book to date.’ Fiona Sampson, Independent

‘David Harsent has become a poet of immense power, nuance and resource, enriching his textures with "high" culture and with folk and ballad features, pursuing uncompromising insights and rigorous narratives ... Only with Ted Hughes gone could our principal anthropologist come into his own: Harsent is our master of the human red in tooth and claw.’ Michael Hulse, Poetry Review

‘[On Legion] An exceptional collection ... that looks without prurience at the countless horrors of war we choose to forget ... technically one of the most accomplished poetry books of recent years.’ Tim Dee, chairman of Forward Prize judges

‘[On Legion] David Harsent's carefully harrowing collection of poems, Legion, is both a disturbing distillation of and profound meditation on the vicious wars we have witnessed recently. Poems that move and make you think.’ William Boyd, Guardian, Books of the Year

About the Author

David Harsent

David Harsent was born in Devonshire. He has published nine collections of poetry. Legion (2005) won the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and his Selected Poems 1969-2005 appeared in 2007.

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Book Info

Publication date

20th January 2011


David Harsent

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Faber & Faber


112 pages


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