W. S. Graham

W S Graham (Author) Michael Hofmann (Editor)


An original collection of the best and most provocative work by Scottish poet W.S. Graham, the celebrated author of "Nightfishing" and Malcolm Mooney's Land.

"Does it disturb the language?" the Scottish poet W. S. Graham liked to ask about a poem. Graham's do--strangely, comically, beautifully. His career fell into two parts. The early work is rapt and wild and incantatory, and culminates in the tour de force of 1955, The Nightfishing. Fifteen years of silence were then followed by an extraordinary late flowering: Graham's poems became stark, quizzical, and unsettling, a continual teasing examination of thought and feeling that is also an ongoing investigation into the nature and power of poetry, work that is at once metaphysical and intimate, wry and elegiac. In these late poems, Graham emerges as one of the true originals of poetry in English.

Product Details

New York Review of Books
Publish Date
November 13, 2018
4.4 X 0.5 X 6.9 inches | 0.3 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

William Sydney Graham (1918-1986) was born into a working-class family in Greenock, Scotland, where his father worked as a shipbuilder. Graham studied structural engineering in Glasgow and philosophy and literature at Newbattle Abbey College outside of Edinburgh before publishing his first collection of poetry, Cage Without Grievance, in 1942. In 1947, he received the Rockefeller Foundation's Atlantic Award for Literature and lectured at New York University for a year. Upon returning to the UK, he lived briefly in London, where he met T. S. Eliot, who accepted Graham's fourth collection, The White Threshold, for publication by Faber and Faber in 1949. Shortly after, Graham moved to Cornwall where, with Agnes "Nessie" Dunsmuir, whom he married in 1954, he lived in a small village and often in great poverty for the rest of his life. A fifth book of poems, The Nightfishing, appeared in 1955; a sixth, Malcolm Mooney's Land, in 1970. Aimed at Nobody was published posthumously by Faber and Faber in 1993. In 2018, the centenary of Graham's birth was marked by the unveiling of a memorial stone outside the Writers' Museum in Edinburgh.

Michael Hofmann is a German-born, British-educated poet and translator. He is the author of two books of essays and five books of poems, most recently One Lark, One Horse. Among his translations are plays by Bertolt Brecht and Patrick Süskind; the selected poems of Durs Grünbein and Gottfried Benn; and novels and stories by, among others, Franz Kafka; Peter Stamm; his father, Gert Hofmann; and fourteen books by Joseph Roth. He has translated several books for NYRB Classics, including Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz, Jakob Wassermann's My Marriage, and Gert Ledig's Stalin Front and edited The Voyage That Never Ends, an anthology of writing by Malcolm Lowry. He teaches in the English Department at the University of Florida.


"His song is unique and his work is an inspiration....W.S. Graham drank and ate poetry every day of his life." --Harold Pinter

"[W.S. Graham] is a poet of spectacular sophistication and originality and the supreme comic poet of our time." --Dennis O'Driscoll