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Dannie Abse's prose anthology draws together essays and autobiographical material spanning a lifetime of writing and practising medicine. We are treated to amusing anecdotes of Abse's time as a trainee-doctor in wartime Britain, as well as more serious pieces on the Holocaust, Jewishness and the impact literature has had on his medical work. His detailed critical essays on poets ranging from Keats to Plath allow us to engage with his own poetic principles: 'I believe all poetry should be written out of a personal predicament and should be necessary; that there is an unconscious aspect to poetry, that it's t all on the surface'. The resounding voice, like that of his poems, is humorous, compassionate and civilised.
Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff in 1923 and studied medicine in London. His first volume of poetry, After Every Green Thing (Hutchinson, 1948), was published two years before he qualified as a physician. Although principally known as a poet, he has also published novels, plays, essays and an autobiography, Goodbye Twentieth Century (Pimlico, 2001). Dannie Abse has received many literary awards. He is president of the Welsh Academy of Letters.