By Ray Givans

Tolstoy in Love

“Daring and risk taking” first full-length collection of poems by Tyrone-born Ray Givans.


Tolstoy in Love is the first full-length collection of poems by Tyrone-born Ray Givans. Daring and risk-taking, the first section begins in the voice of Anna Akhmatova, with what John Wakeman (founder and co-editor of THE SHOp), calls “a triumphant, lyrical celebration of her son’s release after years in Stalin’s prisons”. Notions of voice, and influence, are further explored in poems that are both inner portraits of and meditations on a gallery of writers, including Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Emily Dickinson, John Berryman and Simone Weil… “The second section… is largely autobiographical—reminiscences of a Protestant boyhood in Northern Ireland, evocations of a divided Belfast… The poems here are humane, sometimes touching, sometimes ironic, sometimes playful. Here are two books for the price of one, both worth having.”

“These extraordinary poem-portraits—studious, emotionally commanding and engaging—are a true poetic achievement. Verity, felicity, scrupulous beauty—Tolstoy in Love is a work of great human value.” — Ian Sansom. BBC Writer in Residence, Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry

“Readers should not let the title mislead them: this collection is about much more than Tolstoy… The book chronicles the reality of pain and sorrow in the world and how moments of grace can sometimes provide escape from suffering.”— Wendy Marie Vergoz, Anglican Theological Review, 94:2

ISBN 978 1 906614 08 9 Paperback
82 pp, 140 x 216 mm
May, 2009

Product Detail

  • ISBN: : 9781906614089
  • Size: : 216 x 140 mm
  • Pages: : 82 pp
  • Published: : May 2009

About The Author


Ray Givans was born and reared in the village of Castlecaulfield, Co. Tyrone. He attended Stranmillis Teacher Training College, Belfast, and was awarded a B.Ed from Queen’s University. He completed a Master’s degree in Education at the University of Bath, and has been a teacher of English at secondary schools in Co. Down. He has published four pamphlet-length poetry collections, including two from Lapwing Publications; the most recent being Going Home (2004). He was also involved in a poetry/artwork collaboration, Earth Works, with artist Tony Martin, which was published by Subway, Bristol in 2003. Ray Givans has been awarded prizes for his poetry in Britain, the U.S. and Australia and was the first recipient of the Jack Clemo Memorial prize for poetry. He has been guest editor of Christianity and the Arts, the Chicago based journal. His work was included in Artwords (2000), an anthology of emerging or newly emerged artists and poets from Ulster.