Poetry Book Group - Child Ballad by David Wheatley

Child Ballad cover banner image

The July Poetry Book Group will be meeting via Zoom

Monday, July 15th • 6:30 PM ET / 11:30 PM IST via Zoom
Session open to all: no registration required.

Click on this link to join the Zoom session

Find out about Solas Nua's Poetry Book Group and titles list

Join the Book Group's Facebook Group here!


A Poetry Book Society Winter Recommendation 2023

Sunday Times Book of the Year

In Child Ballad, David Wheatley's sixth collection, he explores a world transformed by the experience of parenthood. Conducting his children through landscapes of Northern Scotland, he follows pathways laid down by departed Irish missionaries and by wolves. He maps a rich territory of rivers, trees and mountains. Also present are histories, some evidenced, some no longer visible and yet to be inferred.

Stylistically, Child Ballad is multifaceted, drawing on influences from the Scottish ballad tradition and the Gaelic bards, on French symbolism and on the American Objectivists. Wheatley is an Irish poet living and teaching in Scotland: as a cultural corridor, his Scotland is a space of migrations and palimpsests, different traditions held in dynamic balance and fusion. Writing across geographical and historical distances as he does, Wheatley develops an aesthetic of complex intimacy, alert to questions of memory and loss, communicating the ache of the here and now. He sees through the eyes of young children and the world looks very different in its gifts and threats.

Wheatley provides intimate descriptions of parenthood as well as of a Northern Scottish natural world. He deploys an ambitious range of poetic styles and forms. His poems put deep roots down into history and geology, and with translation into other languages. Themes of migration and politics are never far away. Child Ballad sings of midlife, of resettlement and marriage as well as of parenthood.


'This is a substantial and scholarly collection, rooted in what appears to have been considerable research undertaken in archives and local history collections, but reading these poems it never feels that the scholarly is overwhelming the beautifully phrased verses. As well as the powerful lines, the always appropriate image, there are poems of wonderful tenderness.'
Linda McKenna, The High Window

'Wheatley's use of the ballad in several poems is masterful, revivifying a muscular form.'
Jessica Traynor, The Irish Times

 'These are musical poems of freshness and power, balancing technical skill with emotional depth... Child Ballad is my book of the year.'
Graeme Richardson, Sunday Times

David Wheatley

About the Author

David Wheatley was born in Dublin in 1970. He is the author of five previous collections of poetry, including The President of Planet Earth (Carcanet, 2017) and various other books including a novel, Stretto (CB Editions, 2022); he has also coedited with Ailbhe Darcy The Cambridge History of Irish Women’s Poetry (Cambridge UP, 2021). He lives in rural Aberdeenshire with his family.

All events are listed in Eastern Time and Irish Standard Time.

Related events