The writers who inspired me at the outset (when I was 16) were D. H. Lawrence, Robert Graves and Wilfred Owen. I still read them, with great profit and pleasure – Lawrence most recently and especially, for the short stories. At present I’m reading A Proper Marriage, which is the second volume of Doris Lessing’s novel-sequence The Children of Violence. Also the poems of Bertolt Brecht, to translate him, and those of George Herbert, to write a note on him for the Reader magazine. I read Seamus Heaney again as soon as I heard of his death.
For more than thirty years David Constantine was a university teacher of German language and literature. His three previous short story collections are Back at the Spike, the highly acclaimed Under the Dam (Comma, 2005), and The Shieling (Comma, 2009), which was shortlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Constantine’s story ‘Tea at the Midland’ won the BBC National Short Story Award 2010 and his latest collection of the same name (Comma Press, 2012) won this year’s Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He has published several volumes of poetry, most recently, Nine Fathom Deep (2009). He was until recently the co-editor of the literary journal Modern Poetry in Translation. He is an award-winning translator of Hölderlin, Brecht, Goethe, Kleist, Michaux and Jaccottet. He is also author of one novel, Davies, and Fields of Fire: A Life of Sir William Hamilton.