David Macleod Black
David Macleod Black (born 8 November 1941) is a South African-born Scottish poet and psychoanalyst. He is author of six collections of poetry and is included in British Poetry since 1945, Emergency Kit (Faber), Wild Reckoning (Calouste Gulbenkian), Twentieth Century Scottish Poetry (Faber) and many other anthologies. As a psychoanalyst he has published many professional papers, an edited volume on psychoanalysis and religion, and a collection of essays relating to values and science.
As a child, David Black lived in South Africa (his country of birth), Malawi and Tanzania before moving with his family to Scotland in 1950. After leaving school he spent a year in France before going to Edinburgh University to study Philosophy. Later he studied Buddhism and Hinduism under Ninian Smart at Lancaster. While at Edinburgh he met the Scottish poet Robert Garioch, who became a lasting influence and inspiration. In the late 1960s he lived in London and taught philosophy and literature at Chelsea School of Art, where he met the American poet Martha Kapos and the painters Ken Kiff and John McLean, who were to become lifelong friends.
Following six months teaching in Japan, and a year at the Findhorn Foundation on the Moray Firth, Black trained in Psychotherapy first at the Westminster Pastoral Foundation (WPF) and later with the British Psychoanalytical Society/Institute of Psychoanalysis. After the unexpected death of WPF's founder, William Kyle, he chaired the Executive Committee for a year until the appointment of the new Director, Derek Blows. He has worked for many years as a psychoanalyst in London. he has been a lecturer and supervisor on a number of psychoanalytic and psychotherapy trainings and is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He is married with two step-daughters, and now lives in London and Wiltshire.
As a poet under the name D. M. Black, he was most prolific in the 1960s and 70s, publishing With Decorum (1967), The Educators (1969), The Happy Crow (1974) and Gravitations (1979). Almost all of this early poetry was narrative, initially surrealist but becoming increasingly reflective and psychological as time went on. The last of these early collections, Gravitations, consists largely of three long narrative poems, two of them written in a hendecasyllabic metre derived from Swinburne. During this period Black's work also appeared in Penguin Modern Poets 11 and British Poetry since 1945, and was widely commented on in Scottish contexts, for example in Robin Fulton's Contemporary Scottish Poetry (1974) and in reviews by Anne Stevenson (Lines Review 69, 1979) and Andrew Grieg (Akros 16:46, 1981). In 1991 Polygon published Black's Collected Poems 1964-77 with an introduction by James Greene. After that he published little poetry until Love As Landscape Painter (Translations of the Roman Elegies and other poems by Goethe) (Fras 2006) and an original collection, Claiming Kindred (Arc Publications 2011).
Under a slightly different version of his name, David M. Black, his psychoanalytic papers have appeared in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, British Journal of Psychotherapy, Journal of Consciousness Studies and elsewhere. He is author of the official history of the Westminster Pastoral Foundation, A Place For Exploration (WPF). In 2006 he edited Psychoanalysis and Religion in the 21st Century: Competitors or Collaborators? (Routledge) and in 2011 he published a collection of original papers, Why Things Matter: The Place of Values in Science, Psychoanalysis and Religion (Routledge).
In addition, Black has written uncollected articles on a wide variety of Scottish poets, Robert Garioch, George MacBeth, Hugh MacDiarmid, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan. He has written with great admiration about the work of Richard Wilbur. While at Edinburgh University he edited the poetry magazine Extra Verse, and in the early 2000s he was a regular reviewer of poetry collections for the journal Poetry London.