Michael Schmidt

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Michael Schmidt was born in Mexico in 1947. He studied at Harvard and at Wadham College, Oxford. He is Professor of Poetry at the University of Manchester and visiting professor at Bolton University. He is a founder (1969) and editorial and managing director of Carcanet Press Limited, and a founder (1972) and general editor of PN Review. He has written poetry, fiction and literary history, and is a translator and anthologist. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he received an O.B.E. in 2006 for services to poetry and higher education.


Michael Schmidt O.B.E., F.R.S.L.
born Mexico D.F., Mexico
2 March 1947
nationality British/Mexican


Editorial and Managing Director
Carcanet Press Ltd
Alliance House, 30 Cross Street
Manchester M2 7AP
0161 834 8730 fax 0161 832 0084
e-mail: schmidt@carcanet.co.uk

e-mail: schmidt@carcanet.co.uk


Wadham College, Oxford, Exhibitioner, 1967-1971, B.A., M.A.
Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Sophomore Standing 1966-7
Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham, Sussex, English Speaking Union Scholarship, 1965-6
The Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA 1959-1965
The American School, Mexico D.F., Mexico 1953-1959

University of Bolton PhD Honoris Causa 2006


publishing and editorial
Managing and Editorial Director, Carcanet Press Limited, 1969-
General Editor, PN Review (formerly Poetry Nation), 1972-

Writer in Residence, St John's College, Cambridge, 2012-2014
Visiting professor, University of Bolton, 2013-
Professor of Poetry, University of Glasgow, 2006-
Professor of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2000-2005
(Founder) Director of the Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University, 1998-2005
Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester, 1994-1998
Lecturer, University of Manchester, 1984-1994
Director of the Poetry Centre, University of Manchester, 1984-1998
Part-time Lecturer, University of Manchester, 1971-1984


Authored and edited books include

authored criticism

The Novel: a biography, Harvard University Press, 2014

Lives of the Ancient Poets: The Greeks, Weidenfeld UK, 2004 (440pp)

The Story of Poetry III: From Pope to Burns, Weidenfeld UK, 2006

The Story of Poetry II: From Skelton to Dryden, Weidenfeld UK, 2002, Orion paperback 2004 (712pp, 197pp critical text, the balance anthology and annotation)

The Story of Poetry I: From Cædmon to Caxton
, Weidenfeld UK, 2001, Orion paperback 2003 (510pp, 143pp critical text, the balance anthology and annotation)

Lives of the Poets
, Weidenfeld UK, 1998, Knopf USA, 1999 (945pp)

Reading Modern Poetry
, Routledge, 1989 (140pp)

Fifty Modern British Poets : an introduction
, Pan/Heinemann, Barnes & Noble USA, 1979 (390pp)

Fifty English Poets 1300-1900: an introduction
,Pan/Heinemann, Barnes & Noble USA, 1979 (420pp)

edited critical anthologies

British Poetry since 1970: a critical survey
with P. Jones, Carcanet, 1980 (257pp)

British Poetry since 1960: a critical survey
with G. Lindop, Carcanet, 1972 (220pp)

editions, introductions, book contributions, afterwords include

Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2003, 2004-2014,
‘On Poetry Publishing’ A.C. Black (12pp)

Elizabeth Jennings, Collected Poems, Carcanet, 2002 (edited, with 8pp introduction)

Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano, Penguin, introduction, 1999 (20pp)

Rupert Brooke, Poems 1915, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

Robert Burns, Poems, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

George Gordon, Lord Byron, The Corsair, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

Coleridge and Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

Jonathan Keats, Lamia and Other Poems, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

Rudyard Kipling, Barrack Room Ballads, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

D.H.Lawrence, Birds, Beasts and Flowers, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

William Butler Yeats, The Tower, Penguin, afterword, 1999 (3pp)

Elizabeth Jennings, Every Changing Shape, Carcanet, 1996 (6pp)

John L.Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, Century Travellers, 1988

C.H.Sisson, The Avoidance of Literature: collected essays, Carcanet, 1978

translations include

On Poets & Others
, Octavio Paz (edited and translated), Seaver Books NY, 1986; Paladin 1991 (238pp)

Flower & Song: Nahuatl [Aztec] Poetry
(edited and translated, with Edward Kissam), Anvil, 1977 (144pp)

poetry anthologies include

The Great Modern Poets, Quercus, 2006

New Poetries III, Carcanet, 2002

The Harvill Book of Twentieth-Century Poetry in English
, Harvill, 1999, paperback, 2001, Vintage, 2003, 2006

New Poetries II
, Carcanet, 1999

Poets on Poets
(with Nick Rennison), Waterstone's/Carcanet, 1997

A Calendar of Modern Poetry, PN Review
100, 1994

New Poetries I
, Carcanet, 1994

Eleven British Poets
, Methuen/Routledge, 1980

Ten English Poets
, Carcanet, 1976


The Dresden Gate, Century Hutchinson, 1988; Vanguard (USA), 1989

The Colonist
, Muller/Hutchinson, 1983; GMP 1993; published in the USA as Green Island, Vanguard 1984, Dell paperbacks (Laurel series) 1985; Swedish translation by Friepress, Stockholm, 1984

poetry books include

The Stories of My Life, Smith/Doorstop, 2013

The Resurrection of the Body, Sheep Meadow (USA), Smith/Doorstop 2007

New and Selected Poems
, Smith/Doorstop, 1997

The Love of Strangers
, Century Hutchinson, 1989

Choosing a Guest: new and selected poems
, Anvil, 1983

A Change of Affairs
, Anvil, 1978

My Brother Gloucester
, Carcanet, 1976

Desert of the Lions
, Carcanet, 1972

Bedlam and the Oak Wood
, Carcanet, 1970

It Was My Tree
, Anvil, 1970

Poems have been translated into Arabic, Estonian, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Rumanian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish

tapes and CDs

Interviewer, co-editor in Canto Talk-Tapes 1987- (CD re-issues 2002)
Gillian Clarke, Donald Davie, Elizabeth Jennings, Edwin Morgan, C.H. Sisson, Iain Crichton Smith, Sylvia Townsend Warner

Newspaper, periodical and magazine contributions

including essays, features, poems, translations and reviews at various times in the following:
Agenda, The Author, The Correspondent, Critical Quarterly, Daily Telegraph, Encounter, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Letters, Listener, London Review of Books, Daily Mail, New Statesman, Notes & Queries, Prospect, Salisbury Review, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, The Times, Times Higher Educational Supplement, Times Literary Supplement, Tribune; and abroad: Kenyon Review, New York Times Book Review, Poetry (USA); Books from Finland (Helsinki), Plural (Mexico), Vuelta (Mexico); also essay contributions to and introductions for books and poetry collections.


Radio has included: Presenter/contributor Kaleidoscope (BBC 4), Night Waves (BBC 3), Front Row (BBC 4), Presenter Poetry Now (BBC 3), A Piece of the World Discovered (ten part anthology programme, BBC 3), Chairman and panel member Critics' Forum (BBC 3), Presenter Third Ear (interviewed Burgess, Ford, Auster, Paz, Glendinning, BBC 3), Panel member on Third Opinion (BBC 3), A Word In Edgewise (Radio 4), Round Britain Quiz (BBC 4), A Good Read (BBC 4), The Message (BBC 4)

Feature programmes for BBC Radios 3 and 4 include
The Feminist Enterprise (interviews with Cixous, Kristeva, Rich etc)
Robert Lowell memorial programme
Octavio Paz introductory talk
Cambridge Poetry Festival (two summary programmes)
Ezra Pound's Politics
Four Personal View talks
Four Words series (BBC 3)

Television: Contributions to Newsnight, The Late Show, Start the Week.

Research related experience, teaching and administration
Carcanet Press Ltd
Editorial and Managing Director since its establishment in 1969
Carcanet Press was established in Oxford in 1969 and moved to Manchester in 1971 when a Special Lectureship in Poetry, funded initially by the Gulbenkian Foundation, was established at the University of Manchester by Professor C.B. Cox to bring the publishing venture to the city.

Carcanet, wholly owned by Lord Gavron’s Folio Holdings since 1983, and by Lady Gavron since 2018, is a substantial client of the Arts Council of England. It produces 35-50 new titles (print and e-book) and 40 reprints a year, having an in-print backlist of 800 titles. It has a full-time staff of four and two part-time employees. It concentrates on poetry (new and classical, English and translated, with a bias towards Commonwealth but a strong American list). Its small fiction list is distinguished in the area of translations of European writing and English experimental writing.

Margaret Drabble praised Carcanet’s 'years of brave and distinguished publishing…the titles cover a remarkable cultural and political range'. Seamus Heaney: 'Carcanet's commitment to publishing work in translation has been matched by an admirable concern to keep lines open to writing in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America'. Frederick Raphael: 'Carcanet has always been the place to look for considerations of purely literary and intellectual merit. Its list relies on the vision and the faith and the energy of people who care about books and values.' George Steiner: 'In Britain the most adventurous list in poetry and fiction is that being printed according to the ideals of a small press by Carcanet, well away from London. It does look as if the old alliance between the words of the writer and the artistry of making fine books has a vital future.'

William Boyd spoke of Carcanet as 'a vital and enlightened presence in the British literary scene • a reliable and constant source of serious, imaginative and eclectic poetry, fiction and a criticism. Everything an independent publisher should be.' Frank Kermode characterised it as 'beautifully independent, skilfully managed, and by people with such exceptional literary taste.'

In 1999-2000 Carcanet took over the Oxford University Press poetry list.

The Carcanet web site is a valuable research tool.

Series Editorships
General Editor: Fyfield Books (Carcanet, Taylor and Francis • Routledge NY) 1970-
FyfieldBooks, established in 1970 and now published jointly with Routledge New York, exists to provide inexpensive introductory selections of writers (poets, artists, divines) whose work is otherwise hard to come by. The series addresses general readers and students at upper secondary and tertiary level. Over 100 titles have been published, most edited by professional scholars and critics; some are established academic texts. The list now includes poetry and prose in translation as well as primary English-language texts.

General Editor: Carcanet new poetry and Pléiade 1969-
Carcanet’s poetry list publishes new writers from all over the English-speaking world, poetry in translation from classical to modern times, and a list of rediscoveries • in Collected or extended Selected editions (the Pléiade) of writers of this century and of major living poets due for reappraisal. The Pléiade stretches from the modernists Wyndham Lewis, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Ford Madox Ford, Mina Loy, Hugh MacDiarmid, Robert Graves and Yvor Winters, through neglected figures of the 1920s and 1930s including Edgell Rickword and I.A.Richards (as poet) to the New York School (Ashbery, Schuyler, O'Hara, Koch) and British writers like Elizabeth Jennings, Edwin Morgan, Iain Crichton Smith, F.T.Prince, E.J.Scovell, Donald Davie, C.H.Sisson and many others.

Journal editorships include

Poetry Editor Grand Street, New York, December 1998-2000

General Editor PN Review 1972-
PN Review was established in the Department of English at the University of Manchester in 1972, as a twice-yearly hardcover journal, Poetry Nation. After three years it became quarterly, and then bi-monthly. For over thirty years it has published new poetry, essays, reviews, interviews, translations, fiction, news and notes, reports, letters and editorials and is regarded here and abroad as one of the distinguished journals of our time. It combines discovery and appraisal of new writing with reappraisals, 'scrutinies' and extended advocacies, and it has published important special issues, the first being the controversial Crisis for Cranmer and King James. Important supplements were devoted to Charles Tomlinson, C.H. Sisson, Donald Davie, I.A. Richards, Thom Gunn, Laura Riding, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Edgell Rickword, George Barker, John Ashbery, Eavan Boland, John Fuller etc.

PN Review has subscribers throughout the world and casual sales through the book trade. It is a client of the Arts Council of England.

The entire run of PN Review is available on line, in fully searchable form, a major student and research resource.

Posts and Memberships

Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Fellow of the English Association
Advisory Board (Literature), British Council 2001-
UK Member, L'Académie Européene de Poésie (permanent)
Member of the British Library Book Advisory Committee 1997-2000
Member of the Delegates Committee, Manchester University Press 1998-
Whitworth Art Gallery Board Member 2002-2004

Co-Director of the Modern Literature Archive project, John Rylands University Library 1990

Writer in Residence, Portico Library, Manchester 2001-2004
Adviser to Finnish Literature Board 1990

No Text past
Director, The Poetry Centre, University of Manchester 1993-1998
Arts Council Touring Panel member 1991-1996
Northern theatre critic Daily Telegraph 1988-93
North-West theatre critic Independent 1986-8
Compton Bequest Trustee (Arts Council) 1980-3
Poetry Book Society Board member (ret)
Poetry Society Board member (ret)
Arts Council of Great Britain Literature Panel member 1968-71

Lectures and Tours include

British Council Cambridge Conference 2003, Monday Convenor, July 2003
South Bank, Voicebox Poetry Library Anniversary Debate, May 2003
Ian Gregor Lecture, University of Kent, Canterbury, March 2003
Keynote Speaker at AULLA Conference, Wellington, New Zealand, February 2003
Research Seminar, Department of English, Glasgow University, January 2003

Artistic and General Director Literatures of the Commonwealth Festival, Manchester, 2002

Keynote Speaker, Americans in Paris Conference, Paris, 2001
Speaker at Rotterdam Poetry Festival, 2000
Participating Poet, Poetry Week, Lisbon, 1999
Keynote Speaker PEN Congress, Helsinki, 1998
Keynote Speaker at the Teaching of Poetry Conference, Oxford Brookes 1998
British Council Fiftieth Anniversary, Vienna 1997
Kanto Gakuin Poetry Conference, Japan: keynote address and three seminars 1996
Guest Speaker, British Council Translation Conference, U. of Warwick 1994, 1996
Keynote Speaker Katowitza, Poland Philosophy Conference September 1994
Keynote Speaker Ilkley Literature Festival June 1994
Guest Speaker at TLS/British Council/Soros Foundation Conference 1994
Speaker British Council/Commons Conference: Copyright in Eastern Europe 1993
St Antony's College Oxford on Publishing in Eastern Europe 1993
Guest Reader at the Harborfront Festival, Toronto 1992
British Council lecture tours of the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Lithuania etc
British delegate at literary congresses Liege, Murcia, Valencia, Paris

Awards and citations received include

National Book Critics Circle Award (USA) short list (for Lives of the Poets 2000)
New York Times Books of the Year list (for Lives of the Poets 2000)
Poetry Book Society Special Commendation (for Selected Poems 1997)
Poetry Book Society Recommendation (for The Love of Strangers, 1989)
Los Angeles Times book award (for Green Island, 1984)

Award Adjudications include

Oxford University Poetry Society Starkie Award judge 2003
BBC Alfred Bradley Award 1996
Selector, Globe Theatre Awards 1993-5
Adjudicator British Comparative Literature Association Translation Awards 1992
Selector, Manchester Evening News theatre awards 1989-1991
Judge for poetry awards including Observer/Arvon competition and other competitions ongoing

Articles, critical mention and interviews include

Who’s Who, 2000-

The North: five poems by MS and three essays on his work by Bernard O'Donoghue, Elaine Feinstein and Grevel Lindop, 1996
Wolfgang Görtschacher, Little Magazine Profiles, University of Salzburg Press, 1993: profiles of PN Review and editorial work passim

Michael Hulse, 'Michael Schmidt in Conversation', Antigonish Review, 1991
Donald Davie, 'A Poem for Fordie', Agenda, 1990
Terry Eagleton, Times Literary Supplement, reviews Reading Modern Poetry, 1989
Mark Fisher Letters to an Editor, Carcanet, 1989
David Punter, The Making of the Reader, 'Conclusion' pp 233ff, 1986
Robert B. Shaw, 'Michael Schmidt', DLB volume 40, II, 1985
Elizabeth Jennings, 'Michael Schmidt', Contemporary Poets, Macmillan, 1980
Peter Orr, British Council/Harvard Poetry Tapes project, 1975

Manuscript Holdings

Papers – manuscripts, drafts, proofs, correspondence etc – were acquired by the John Rylands University Library in 1991, as part of the modern literature archive project.

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