On Poetry

Smith | Doorstop, 2018

One of The Guardian‘s Top 10 books on creative writing

On Poetry cover page

Jonathan Davidson is fascinated by how poetry is found and how it is heard. In On Poetry – a work combining memoir with practical observations – he traces his own development as a listener and reader of poetry through a period of over fifty years. In doing so he reveals his inspiration for writing and suggests alternative approaches to poetry, areas also explored in his article The Poetry-Industrial Complex.

On Poetry was selected by the poet Anthony Anaxagorou (author of How to Write It), as one of his Top 10 books about creative writing for The Guardian on 14th October 2020, alongside books by Zadie Smith, Sandeep Parmar and Ben Lerner.

This small book is a gem and any reader interested in poetry and how it can enrich our lives will find Davidson a fine companion” – Liz Berry

Poetry can be thought of as something arduous or an exercise in analysis, existing either within small artistic enclaves or secondary school classrooms. One of the many strengths of Davidson’s writing is how he makes poetry feel intimate and personal, neither dry or remote. His approach to thinking around ways that certain poems affect us is well measured without being exclusive. A timely and resourceful book for writers interested in how poems go on to live with us throughout our lives.” – Anthony Anaxagorou, The Guardian

“On Poetry is a departure from the critical norm, and a pleasure to devour. As studiedly simple, and as mercifully free of postmodern obfuscation as Peter Sansom’s seminal Writing Poems, Davidson’s sage words lead the reader towards an understanding of the ways in which poetry may speak to us all.” – Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times

Read an excerpt of On Poetry on Leicester University’s Creative Writing blog.

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