Collected Poems: Volume One (published simply as Collected Poems in 2008 on the occasion of his 60th birthday) presents early poems and the books (The Irish for No and Belfast Confetti) that announced Ciaran Carson as an indispensable force in contemporary poetry. Subsequent collections, First Language, Opera Et Cetera, The Twelfth of Never, Breaking News and For All We Know confirmed his position as one of the great writers of our time.

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: Volume Two demonstrates the range of Ciaran Carson’s later style, his fetch from the French of Jean Follain and his magnificent swansong, Still Life, a book of celebration and lamentation completed in the weeks before his untimely death.


‘. . . 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: 2023 as Collected Poems (Volume One)
Year Published: 2008 as Collected Poems
Details: 608pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 432 9

Cover:‘The Open Field’ by Clement McAleer (2014)

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