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...
IN PRAISE OF ELISABETH MOSS
4 days ago