Richard Price will be reading from and chatting about his latest poetry collection, Late Gifts, which is published by Manchester’s Carcanet Press on 26 October and re-examines the environmental and political themes which have been explored by the poet in previous work.
These concerns become more urgent in the context of a new son, born to a middle-aged father – the “late gift” of the title. The baby’s future offers a new perspective, making Late Gifts both a joyful and an anxious book. How does having a child and becoming a father change the writer’s “sense of present and future, of time itself? The poet focuses on this demanding and joyful relationship in terms that are funny and re-energising, his world renewed.”
As well as writing poetry and fiction, Richard Price is Head of Contemporary British Collections at the British Library and a tutor at the Poetry School in London. Born in 1966, he grew up in Renfrewshire, and began writing poetry at the age of 14. After leaving school, he trained as a journalist at Napier College, Edinburgh, before taking a degree in English and Librarianship at the University of Strathclyde. He has published over a dozen books of poetry since his debut in 1993, including Lucky Day (2005), which was a Guardian Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize.
Since then, every Carcanet collection he has published has been shortlisted for a major prize. In 2012 his poem ‘Hedge Sparrows’ was chosen to represent Team GB in the Olympics project The Written World. A year later, Small World (2012) won the Creative Scotland Award. It was followed by another Guardian Book of the Year, Moon for Sale (2017), which was also shortlisted for the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year. Price’s most recent book is his re-telling of Inuit stories in The Owner of the Sea (2021), a Scotsman Book of the Year.
Late Gifts is Price’s first collection in six years, and is described as “direct and idiomatic in style”. Price, we’re told, is a versatile and experimental writer, and for Late Gifts he “has developed new forms for his subject matter, including striking longer pieces which survey contemporary worlds with arresting imagery and a hypnotic energy, the twin gatherings of prose poems ‘Shore Gifts’ and ‘Shore Thefts’, and quieter, meditative poems of elegy and awe-struck praise. The lyric investigates the visual disposition of the poem – the use of white spaces – and the possibilities of the prose poem.”
As Maureen N McLane has written, “He is one of our most attentive, delicate, ferocious transmitters, singers, makers.”
Here’s an extract:
It’s all in the eyes –
the glimpses, yes,
the astonishment of presence
and then full open eyes, the long look
(the laughing look, the connecting look)
eyes that know and share and love
It’s all in the hands,
the miracle of hand-in-hand, yes
hands seeking hands,
a caring hand on a shoulder,
working hands at rest, side by side,
hands that know and share and love
It’s all in the understanding
‘getting to know’ takes a lifetime, yes,
life of the closest understandings
the elaborate luck
the gift of finding
and all to know and share and love
Hosting the reading will be poet Alan Riach, who has published six collections of his own poetry and is Professor in the Department of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. He was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, educated at Cambridge and Glasgow, and went to the University of Waikato, New Zealand, as Associate Professor in 1986, returning to Scotland in 2001. He has written about and edited the poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid as well as books on 20th-century Scottish literature and art and culture in modern Scotland. He has recently also worked on English-language versions of 18th-century Gaelic poems.
As always with Carcanet Press events, extracts of the text will be shown during the reading so that you can read along, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. Registration for this online event is £2, redeemable against the cost of the book – attendees will receive a discount code and details of how to get hold of the new book during and after the event.