Collected Poems


Ciaran Carson

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Ciaran Carson’s Collected Poems – published on the occasion of his 60th birthday – gathers work from eight breathtaking collections.

From the neat shapes and thought of his earliest work, The New Estate, with its influence of Early Irish and Welsh nature notes, to the explosion of energy, inventiveness and verve in The Irish for No and Belfast Confetti; from the increasingly encyclopaedic range and formal dexterity of First Language and Opera Et Cetera to the sustained high pitch and wit of The Twelfth of Never; from the scalpelled precision of his biopsy of the causes and extent of war in Breaking News to the mysterious, moving and half-hinted narratives of For All We Know, his body of work, with its power surges and spikes, emerges as a triumph of style, strange fun and organic wholeness.

Collected Poems embodies a conversation with various traditions whose parameters it enforces and stretches. It ensures Ciaran Carson’s place at the cutting edge of contemporary art and secures his position as one of the finest poets at work today . . .


‘. . . a necessary volume. Carson . . . compulsively playful, a colloquial, ultra-literary storyteller, who changes his formal game with almost every book. At his best he’s better than almost anyone.’


Ciaran Carson’s much anticipated Collected Poems establishes him — for those who still need convincing — as a major poet both within and outside the borders of his native Northern Ireland. The book, which includes eight collections over the past thirty years, is unlike many volumes of collected poems, which pay homage to the poet’s best years. Carson’s Collected is, by contrast, more overture than coda. Not content to rest on past successes and revisit old forms, Carson offers risky innovations with each new collection, allowing for new readings not only of Northern Ireland but of the poetic line itself.

— Heather Clark, Harvard Review Online

. . . For All we Know is a fitting and triumphant conclusion to Carson’s Collected Poems. Characterised by its consummate artistry, it shows him again breaking new ground, whilst at the same time it resonates with echoes of earlier work such as the image of the patchwork quilt, which first appeared in his pamphlet The Lost Explorer.  A poet who is constantly driven by his need to reinvent himself, there seems to be little he can’t do with language. The iconic poet of Belfast throughout the darkest period of its recent history, he is now, by virtue of his technical brilliance and the depth and range of his emotional impact, one of the most accomplished poets writing in English today.

— David Cooke, Agenda

Year Published: 2008
Reissued: 2013
Details: 600pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 432 9

The Gallery Press