The Cutting Edge. Collected Poems 1966-2003
Foreword by Gerry Cambridge. Introduction by Iain Crichton Smith
April 2006. 112 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-22-0; ISBN-10 3-901993-22-3
"Though his poetry has a masculine outspokenness and force, he is very sensitive to the feminine part of his nature."
Iain Crichton Smith
"David Morrison takes a clear look at life and all who share it and writes about them (and himself) with admirable energy. His 'character poems', to take an example, are a joy to read."
"If this is the voice of the north, it speaks from a full, warm heart for its neighbour, and that is a voice worth hearing in ony airt."
"His poetry is the verbal record of his love affair with Scotland, an affair that embraces identifiable individuals and reaches out to the readers of this book."
His work constantly plays with structure, breaking lines for emotional impact, manipulating white space, stanza breaks and line repetitions suggesting mood or underlining meaning. Yet alongside that painterly sense of the visual I found echoes of poets known for more formal qualities, in particular W. B. Yeats and R. S. Thomas. A little surprising, perhaps, for a Scot to be influenced by an Irish and a Welsh poet, but I kept finding those echoes, subtle though they are, suggested by the turn of a phrase, a gentle emphasis on the nostalgic past, and Morrison's ability to draw out character through his poems [...]. It occurred to me that Yeats and Thomas, both being non-English poets, might well appeal to a poet equally outside the English mainstream. For Morrison's work is strongly Scottish in flavour, some of these poems being written in dialect, others celebrating his roots both as a poet and an individual, as in the Yeatsian "Lovesong for Lesley", a poem about his spiritual homeland Caithness [...]. This poem is typical of Morrison's love of the abstract, preferring to discuss the ideas behind his poetry rather than suggest them through imagery and description. It's a technique which creates a sense of distance between poet and subject, and lends itself to ambitious, idea-generated poetry. [...] This Collected Poems from David Morrison would make a rich and readable addition to anyone's bookshelf, especially those with a particular interest in Scottish poetry.
'I am my own life's frailty', David Morrison lats on in 'No More Am I' in his 'Collected Poems',
scrieved faur awa frae urban-decreed poetic fashions. He bides in Caithness, an his wark ettles tae
arrive at the abstract - the consolation he get in the sea, saunds an stanes o the landscape he
noo caas his ain (he's frae Glasgow). The 'I' o the makar is tae the fore: thrawn, gutsy,
bevvyin; a bit o a lad wi aw the poems tae 'Valery' an 'Lesley' an ither wemen, so aye
feelin guilt; siftin the day's action tae shaw us warts in himsel an ithers. Mourners dinna
mince wurds aboot the deid in 'At Harry's Funeral' .
He disna bother his heid aboot parteecular poetic forms, but there are lines in this buik that spik tae me. Frae 'Village Saint':
You lifted a fallen woman with your love;Frae 'Painter Turned Philosopher' (o a painter that nae langer paints):
she returned to the sale again
But knew a time of help.
He walks and is the road.Fur aw David Morrison canna tholse meenisters o the Kirk, a guid wheen o his poems huv the cadences o the pulpit or Bible. 'The Breath' is wan sic poem: 'I have been the form and breath of another man'. The traisir o this collection is its wisdom; seein a chiel yaisin his brain tae mak sense o the warld. he paints braw character picturs, that hae the pouer tae muive ye tae tears, fur he disna luik doon at fowk an their nae aften wyce behaviour - a kindlie-herted, honest makar.
He breahtes and is the air.
He sees life and is that life.
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