Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Children of Albion: Part 2

The previous post really looked at some of the less well-known names in the anthology. People like Pete Brown and Spike Hawkins whose names only get remembered in passing these days. Pete Brown, of course, does have a second existence as a lyricist for Cream and a musician; but a lot of the names are now forgotten.

But there are poets in this anthology who could be classed as among some of the best British poets of the 20th century. Roy Fisher is here, for instance, with extracts from his very influential City, as is Gael Turnbull, Scottish-Candadian doctor and publisher of Migrant press and magazine, seminal British Modernist. Tom Pickard, Lee Harwood, Tom Raworth, David Challoner, Andrew Crozier are all easily among the best poets in the country, though here reresented by early work. Tom Pickard's combination of Black Mountain poetics and Newcastle dialect is only one of the many innovations here.

Then there are the British Beats. Jim Burns shines the brightest for me; I've always liked the seeming casuallness of his writing and the insight into everyday life his work gives. But I really must go and read some more of Micheal Horowitz, and his wife Frances. Not much could be said about Dave Cunliffe, unfortunately; though two of his contributions seemed to have the stink of real life about them, you could smell the patchouli again. Then there's Herbert Lomas, who may or not have been beat, but here seems remarkably sharp.

It's an interesting snapshot into interesting times, and a window into what might have been. What would English poetry be like if Larkin had been consigned to the margins and Roy Fisher had been the poet to imitate? Or if Gael Turnbull had been more widely spoken of than Heaney? I wonder...


Matt Merritt said...

Lomas is an interesting poet, isn't he? I've only read odd bits and bobs by him, but he always strikes me as one of those poets like Geoffrey Holloway or Harry Guest or Jeremy Hooker, who without being at all 'out there' isn't really very mainstream either. I must get hold of something by him.

I seem to remember his reviews always being interesting, too. I think he used to do a lot for Ambit or somewhere similar a few years back.

Aidan Semmens said...

Interesting. Roy Fisher certainly ought to have been regarded as the prime English poet of his generation. Which leads to the odd thought, if Larkin had been 'alternative' would I have liked his work better? Probably not.