The poems in William Virgil Davis's Landscape and Journey constitute forays onto actual terrain-either close to home in Texas or farther off in Wales-as well as exploring what the poet Guy Davenport once called the geography of the imagination. A number of the poems here recount the closely observed details of journeys the poet has made, travels he has literally taken. At other times they tell of imaginary journeys-travels the poet would like to take or "travels" to places only "visible" in the mind's eye. Often Davis's elegant lyrics combine a bit of both. They take off from a particular painting or line of poetry-by Geoffrey Hill or Charles Tomlinson-and carry the reader beyond the surfaces of art to the very heart of things. His poems are, in this sense, like travelers sent out into the world to make their way, to survive and to endure. The New Criterion, which has published poetry since 1984, is recognized as one of the foremost contemporary venues for poetry with a regard for traditional meter and poetic form. The magazine was thus an early leader in that poetic renaissance that has come to be called the New Formalism.
Building on its commitment to serious poetry, The New Criterion in 2000 established an annual poetry prize, which carries an award of $3,000. In 2001, Ivan R. Dee began publication of the annual New Criterion poetry prizewinner.
William Virgil Davis is the author of three books of poetry, including One Way to Reconstruct the Scene, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and, most recently, Winter Light. His critical works include R. S. Thomas: Poetry and Theology. He is professor of English and writer in residence at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.