A Commonplace: Apples, Bricks & Other People’s Poems


A Commonplace is a conversation about how poetry is made and exists as the underlying geology of our lives. Jonathan Davidson’s quiet but distinctive poems – including pieces from the 17th Century, from Kyiv and Lisbon, and from Finland and Nicaragua –  are complemented by outstanding work by sixteen other poets and translators. Littered with unruly footnotes and featuring a gazetteer and bibliography, A Commonplace invites the reader to experience poetry as a lived art form.

Featuring poetry by: Ann Atkinson, Gottfried Benn, Catherine Byron, Ernesto Cardenal, Maura Dooley, Roz Goddard, Sylvia Kantaris, Jackie Kay, Zaffar Kunial, Richie McCaffery, Pauline Stainer and Kit Wright.

“… an excellent read that lingers in the memory …”

Matthew Stewart, Rogue Strands
 (read full review here)

Read a Sample.

What Writers and Critics Think

  • What shines through is the openness of the venture and the sense of poetic community and involvement of different voices and poetics in a constant communion.

    Sasha Dugdale
  • 'A Commonplace' is hugely readable – original, modest, wise and entertaining. Above all, it is a friendly book, an invitation to join a conversation.

    Andy Croft, Smokestack Books
  • I think that this book and its poems are very good, in brave and unusual ways.

    Alison Brackenbury


“Davidson has written “attention is the currency in which poets are paid”. I hope his new book will gain the attentive readership it deserves.” – Acumen, issue 102 (Jan 2022) (view Acumen #102 here)

“Jonathan Davidson’s A Commonplace is an act of poetic generosity. Fully in the spirit of his entertaining and engaging essay-memoir On Poetry (also from Smith|Doorstop in 2018), the author seeks to remind us of the importance of sharing verse, and not just one’s own … A moving and enlivening reminder of the importance of poetry and the quiet power of Davidson’s own work.” – David Clarke, Ink Sweat & Tears (read full review here)

“Jonathan Davidson’s wonderful A Commonplace: Apples, Bricks & Other People’s Poems (Smith|Doorstop) includes luminous finely crafted poems by Davidson alongside poems he loves, generous commentary and laughter-inducing footnotes. This is intelligent poetry that absolutely wants to include.” – Rosie Miles, Morning Star‘s Best of 2020: Poetry (for other great poetry recommendations read the full article here)

“A generous collection, exploring how poems interweave and inspire. The commentary is modest, seeking connection, the links and echoes between poems. The tone is conversational, a consideration of how poems arrive, how a body of work accumulates. In that sense the commentary adds to the poems, as if the collection has been gathered in the aftermath of the flurry of writing, drafting, editing and testing, at the point when the post composition quiet allows for connections to surface and themes to emerge.” – Emma Lee, on Emma Lee’s Blog, (Read full review here)

“What do you get if you cross an anthology with a poetry reading? Something, I’d say, like Jonathan Davidson’s A Commonplace. It’s such a simple idea you’re left wondering why it hasn’t been done before. The logic works like this: people want to know a bit about where a poem has come from, the nitty-gritty of incident that led to its composition. And poems by different authors often resonate one with the other—in a kind of call and response. Put that together and you get an entertaining mix of anecdote, discovery and material for discussion.” – Stuart Henson, London Grip (read full review here)

“In his Enthusiast!, David Herd describes enthusiasm as ‘[the desire] to pass things on. Plato put it in terms of magnetic rings, Shaftesbury described it as ‘an itch of imparting’, of ‘kindling the same fire in other breasts’.’ My enthusiasm is kindled and itched (or tickled?) by Davidson’s. Writing about his writing, I find myself borrowing his directness, find myself wanting to tell you, truly, that these are poems that I will carry, use, and live with. A Commonplace gives me faith in poetry, and how it can build shared grounds through diversity. Our commonplaces may be different kinds of the same kind, but this is what makes them all resound together.” – Fiona Glen, 3:AM Magazine (read full review here)


“Poems – my own and other people’s – are scattered across my life. They are in books and notebooks, folded in wallets and hidden in desk drawers; a few are memorised. They are as commonplace as food and drink. I wouldn’t want to live without them, although I dare say I could. They will be the last things I forget when I have forgotten everything else. Some of these poems are gathered together in this book, A Commonplace.

A Commonplace is a collection of my own poems interleaved with other people’s poems, poems I admire and that give solace or inspiration. As there are things I want to say about my own poems, and about those by other poets, I have included an on-going commentary. This isn’t something I’ve done before, but it has made me think about how poetry is released into the world.”

[Extract from A Commonplace]


Listen here to Jonathan Davidson in conversation with Patrick Widdess from Poetry Non-Stop podcast about A Commonplace.


Listen to: ‘Apple Picking’ by Jonathan Davidson, read by Jo Bell



Jonathan Davidson has spent a lifetime finding ways to release poetry into the wild. He has curated festivals, made poetry performances for the stage and radio, and has published several books and pamphlets. This work has focussed on the English Midlands but has also taken him to India, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Central America. He currently lives in Birmingham.

Visit Jonathan’s website for more, including audio content.


Cover Painting: The Industrial Henge by Anna Dillon (http://www.annadillon.com/)

Additional information

Dimensions 13.8 × 10.8 × 0.9 cm

978-1-912196-33-3, 978-1-912196-46-3



Publication Year

August 2020


Book, eBook (ePub)