Schmidt, Michael 1947–

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SCHMIDT, Michael 1947–

(Michael Norton Schmidt)


Born March 2, 1947, in Mexico City, Mexico; son of Carl Bernhardt (an aviator) and Elizabeth (a horticulturalist) Schmidt; married Claire Harman, 1979 (divorced); children: two sons and a daughter. Education: Attended Harvard University, 1966-67; Wadham College, Oxford, B.A., 1970, M.A., 1977.


Office—Carcanet Press Limited 4th Fl., Alliance House, Cross St., Manchester M2 7AP, England. E-mail[email protected]


Writer, poet, editor, and publisher. Carcanet Press Ltd., Manchester, England, founder and editorial director, 1969—; University of Manchester, Gulbenkian fellow, 1972-75, fellow of Manchester Poetry Centre, 1972—, senior lecturer in poetry. Manchester Metropolitan University, founder-director of the Writing School, 1998-2005, professor of English, 2000-05; University of Glasgow, Scotland, professor of poetry, convener of the writing M.Litt. program, 2006—. Also cofounder and director of the Modern Literature Archive project, John Rylands University Library, Manchester.


English Association (fellow), Advisory Board (Literature) of the British Council, L'Académie Européene de Poésie.


Fellow, Royal Society of Literature, 1993; Order of the British Empire, 2006; honorary doctorate, University of Bolton, 2006.



Black Buildings, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1969.

Bedlam and the Oakwood, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1970.

One Eye Mirror Cold, Sycamore, 1970.

Desert of the Lions, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1972.

It Was My Tree, Anvil Press (London, England), 1973.

My Brother Gloucester, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 1976.

A Change of Affairs, Anvil Press (London, England), 1978.

Choosing a Guest: New and Selected Poems, Anvil Press (London, England), 1983.

The Dresden Gate, Vanguard (New York, NY), 1987.

The Love of Strangers, Hutchinson (London, England), 1989.

Selected Poems, 1972-1997, Smith/Doorstop (Huddersfield, England), 1999.

The Resurrection of the Body, Smith/Doorstop (Huddersfield, England), 2006.-


British Poetry since 1960, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1972.

Ten English Poets, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1976.

A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern British Poets, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1979.

(With John Matthias) Five American Poets: Robert Hass, John Matthias, James McMichael, John Peck, Robert Pinksy, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1979.

A Reader's Guide to Fifty Poets, 1300-1900, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1980.

Eleven British Poets: An Anthology, Methuen (London, England), 1980.

(With Peter Jones) British Poetry since 1970: A Critical Survey, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1980.

Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1983.

(And translator, with Edward Kissam) Poems of the Aztec Peoples, Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue (Ypsilanti, MI), 1983.

A Calendar of Modern Poetry, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1994.

New Poetries, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1994.

(With Alastair Niven) Enigmas and Arrivals: An Anthology of Commonwealth Writing, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1997.

(With Nick Rennison) Poets on Poets, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1997.

The Harvill Book of Twentieth-Century Poetry in English, Harvill (London, England), 1999.

New Poetries II, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1999.

New Poetries III, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 2002.

Elizabeth Jennings, New Collected Poems, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 2002.

The Great Modern Poets, Quercus (London, England), 2006.


The Colonist (novel), Muller, 1980, published as Green Island, Vanguard (New York, NY), 1982.

(Translator) Octavio Paz, On Poets and Others, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1987.

The Dresden Gate, Hutchinson (London, England), 1988.

Reading Modern Poetry, Routledge (New York, NY), 1989.

Lives of the Poets, Knopf (New York, NY), 1999.

The Story of Poetry, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2001.

The Story of Poetry II: From Skelton to Dryden, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 2002.

The First Poets: Lives of the Ancient Greek Poets, Weidenfeld & Nicholson (London, England), 2004, Knopf (New York, NY), 2005.

Editor of PN Review (formerly Poetry Nation Review), 1984—.


Poet, publisher, and critic Michael Schmidt is the founder and editorial director of Carcanet Press, an influential British publisher of poetry. Schmidt also serves as editor of PN Review, formerly Poetry Nation Review, a leading British literary magazine. He is the author of several books of and about poetry and has also edited numerous poetry collections.

In the massive Lives of the Poets, Schmidt presents a 900-page overview of some six centuries of British poetry. Thomas L. Cooksey in the Library Journal explained that "while deeply informed, Schmidt's discussion eschews any specific critical perspective, offering brief biographical sketches and a focus on the uses and innovations of language." Cooksey added that Lives of the Poets is "both rich in its discernment and a pleasure to read." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "throughout his tour, [Schmidt] lingers at major moments in political, religious and social history to show how poets have used the resources of language to respond to their respective pressures." Writing in Poetry, Thomas M. Disch commented: "To his credit Schmidt is not a Procrustean historian … determined to discover some pattern in all lyric rainfalls, rivulets, and floods. He accepts the canon pretty much as it has been handed down, and his judgment calls are four-square and outspoken." According to Ray Olson in Booklist: "Schmidt writes literately and with the proper authority." Olson added: "Consider this a new cornerstone for literature collections."

Schmidt delves further back into the history of poetry with his book The First Poets: Lives of the Ancient Greek Poets. The author focuses on twenty-three ancient Greek poets, including Hesiod, Pindar, Sappho, and especially Homer, whose life and works encompasses three chapters of the book. In his biographical accounts of these poets, Schmidt includes comments concerning the Greeks made by such notable poets as Ezra Pound and Virginia Woolf. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called The First Poets "an exciting work of scholarship by a masterly poet." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Camille Paglia commented that the author often used "pedestrian" quotes from past commentaries on the poets and their works, but added: "Whenever he is front and center, Schmidt himself is a fascinating guide who wins the reader's trust."

Among the many anthologies that Schmidt has edited is The Harvill Book of Twentieth-Century Poetry in English. In this volume Schmidt presents a compendium of nearly 800 poems drawn from 117 poets throughout the entire English-speaking world. Schmidt has arranged the poems by date of the poets' birth, beginning with Thomas Hardy, born in 1840 and ending the anthology with Sophie Hannah, born in 1971. Writing in Quadrant, Olivier Burckhardt noted: "Michael Schmidt is eminently well-suited to take measure of the changes and vicissitudes that brought poetry to its current modern character," adding that "he is well aware that poetry has become a marginal art with a small and specialised audience. But of even greater importance than a sober attitude to the subject is the way he forgoes the cult of the poet, or clique of poets, and concentrates on the poetry itself."



Booklist, October 15, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Lives of the Poets, p. 411.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2004, review of The First Poets: Lives of the Ancient Greek Poets, p. 1192.

Library Journal, February 1, 1980, Stephen H. Cape, review of A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern British Poets, p. 406; December 1, 1980, Peter S. Graham, review of British poetry since 1970, p. 2499; June 1, 1982, Page Edwards, review of Green Island, p. 1114; September 1, 1999, Thomas L. Cooksey, review of Lives of the Poets, p. 192.

Nation, February 5, 1983, D.D. Guttenplan, review of Green Island, p. 152.

New Republic, July 4, 2005, Emily Wilson, review of The First Poets, p. 38.

New Yorker, October 4, 1982, review of Green Island, p. 146.

New York Times Book Review, August 28, 2005, Camille Paglia, review of The First Poets, p. 10.

Poetry, August, 2000, Thomas M. Disch, review of The Lives of the Poets, p. 279.

Publishers Weekly, March 26, 1982, review of Green Island, p. 65; September 12, 1986, Miriam Berkley, "London Profiles," p. 44; September 4, 1987, review of The Dresden Gate, p. 52; August 16, 1999, review of Lives of the Poets, p. 67.

Quadrant, May, 2000, Olivier Burckhardt, review of The Harvill Book of Twentieth-Century Poetry in English, p. 84.

School Library Journal, March, 1983, Nancy Chapin, review of Green Island, p. 201.

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Schmidt, Michael 1947–

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