Anthologies 4

Posted by on 11 12 16 in Poetry | 1 comment

I have been looking at Modern Poetry selected and edited by Maurice Wollman (The Scholar’s Library: Macmillan, 1939), an anthology in which some of the big names of Modernism start appearing  – W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Stephen Spender and W.B. Yeats. In general, however, whatever the claims of the Introduction, the anthology is not Modernist in tone, and the poems representing the six above are not perhaps what we’d choose today. W.H. Auden is represented by: From Scars where Kestrels Hover T.S. Eliot is represented by: The Journey of the Magi* The Hollow Men* Thomas Hardy is represented by: Any Little Old Song I Am the One* Snow in the Suburbs* The Selfsame Song Weathers D.H. Lawrence is represented by: Baby Tortoise Cypresses* Humming-Bird Stephen Spender is represented by: I Hear the Cries of Evening...

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Anthologies 3

Posted by on 16 11 16 in Poetry | 2 comments

Poems in my next anthology are also arranged by theme, if a little vaguely, but there the similarity ends. Modern Poetry selected and edited by Maurice Wollman (The Scholar’s Library: Macmillan, 1939) is aimed at the academic market, and indeed my copy comes from a university library. The editor was the Senior English Master at the Barking Abbey School, and we can hear the schoolmaster’s sobriety in the Preface: The aim of this Anthology is to be representative of the poetry of the last dozen years. No poem, however, has been admitted for the sake of representing its author: each poem has been judged solely on its merits. The collection is an all-British affair (if we include Ireland). A few poets are missing because they had published little over the period in question -AE Housman, Robert Graves, Hilaire Belloc,...

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Anthologies 2

Posted by on 27 10 16 in Poetry | 1 comment

Decades ago, when I had more time at my disposal, I would spend hours in that most dispiriting section of second-hand bookshops: the poetry shelves. How much loving care had been lavished on collections that remained just worthy items, neither really good nor really bad, but simply a monument to others’ hopes, expressions and ambitions. Readers of the last blog will know that I’m looking at ‘Verse of Our Day: An Anthology of Modern American and British Poetry’ edited by Margery Gordon and Marie B. King, and published by D. Appleton and Co. in 1931. And one of the reasons now is as it was decades ago, to see if there exist important poets that have remained overlooked, perhaps not making our literary histories because of unfashionable style or subject matter. So what’s the verdict: are there unsung heroes...

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Poetry Anthologies

Posted by on 15 10 16 in Poetry | 0 comments

We often view past poetry through the spectacles of our current conceptions, and it’s therefore salutary – indeed enlightening – to see how previous generations saw matters. I’ve been reading some old anthologies purchased cheaply on line through Abebooks, and will spend the next few posts discussing what’s come to light. Here, to start with, is ‘Verse of Our Day: An Anthology of Modern American and British Poetry’ edited by Margery Gordon and Marie B. King, and published by D. Appleton and Co. in 1931. The anthology is divided into 19 sections, and to give the flavour of the work generally and without distortion I’ll reproduce the first stanza of the first poem in each of the first six sections. 1. Nature Softly along the road of evening, In a twilight rim with rose, Wrinkled with age, and drenched...

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The Poetry of Academe

Posted by on 1 02 16 in Poetry | 3 comments

Through academic courses,  literary criticism, MFA programs and support for the small presses, the universities play a critical  role in today’s serious poetry. But what is it about academe that produces such indifferent poetry – generally mundane reflections on subjects that would not merit inclusion in a local newspaper? I’m not going to name offenders, but if the later selections in the Oxford Book of American Poetry {1} are anything to go by, the art form is now in a bad way. Perhaps it’s the politics, what commentators on 100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School, expressed as: There are certainly kind and decent people in academia … most definitely. But this post is spot-on. With everyone working on (practically) lifetime appointments and nothing other than grad students and relatively meaningless awards and publications to hold over one...

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4 Poets in The Wolf Magazine

Posted by on 6 10 15 in Poetry | 3 comments

The Wolf Magazine is a forward-looking British magazine that publishes translations, criticism, book reviews, interviews and poetry that is difficult to categorize, but could be called commendably oblique to the usual viewpoints. Let me say more by commenting on Jonathan Morley’s On first looking into Cecily Jones’s Engendering Whiteness, which can be read at: I’d better start by explaining that the book Engendering Whiteness is an extended academic study comparing the positions of white women under colonialism in 1627 Barbados with 1865 North Carolina, {1} and that ‘haint’ is a ghost or lost soul. That women are all sisters under the skin is given us in the opening lines: Beneath your skin, my dear, lurks a black haint with horny breasts, prouder nipples than yours. But the sisters are lustful, rebellious, given to dancing and drumming about their...

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5 Poets in The Seventh Quarry

Posted by on 7 09 15 in Poetry | 0 comments

The Seventh Quarry Swansea Poetry Magazine publishes work from around the world, a book and magazine review, and a profile of a British or a non-British poet with each issue. There is also poetry evening held regularly at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. I’ve chosen five pieces that work well, though they’re admittedly not over ambitious. The first is Even the black cow by Mike Jenkins at: It’s a simple piece, reminiscent of the early Ted Hughes, but without his compelling imagery. The first four lines give its flavour: Even the cow gets tired    of the crows on its back       crows on its back            picking    flicking    flapping The next is Royal Command by Herbert Williams at : It maintains an easy command of the colloquial through its fifty odd lines, starting with: Evenings...

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5 Poets in Poetry Wales

Posted by on 2 08 15 in Poetry | 0 comments

It’s difficult to be enthusiastic about Poetry Wales, which publishes unsentimental reflections on things not made poetry by craft, treatment or inherent subject matter. The outlet makes the usual claims: Founded in 1965, Poetry Wales is a quarterly magazine with an international reputation for excellent poems, features and reviews from Wales and beyond. Emerging from a rich bilingual culture, Poetry Wales explores the diverse perspectives of Welsh poetry in English and its international relationships. Only three issues are available online at the London Poetry Library (the latest being 1993), the two recent specimen poems (by Damian Walford Davies and Emily Toder) are pious pretense, and the website archives give reviews only of poetry collections — conscientious no doubt, but not making us rush off an order for the works in question. Let me try to say what I mean...

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5 Poets in Poetry Scotland

Posted by on 2 07 15 in Poetry | 0 comments

Poetry Scotland is an unpretentious poetry magazine with a strong local flavour. As its ‘About’ page cheerfully announces: We aim to publish any kind of poetry so long as it is good. We have included rhymed and unrhymed, long and short, political and personal, humorous, narrative, ballad, haiku and prose poems. Our interest in languages (especially those of Scotland) brings Gaelic, Scots, Welsh & French to our pages at times. The magazine hosts an annual weekend of poetry in the highland town of Callender where friends, subscribers and contributors to Poetry Scotland can meet, listen to poetry and talks, take part in readings and discussion on a free and informal basis. Its website (The Open Mouse)  is at: and includes a short bio with its contributors’ poems. David Anthony’s Late August at Hadrian’s Wall is at: And...

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4 Poets from Poetry Salzburg Review

Posted by on 3 06 15 in Poetry | 0 comments

Poetry Salzburg Review  was founded in 2001, and now gives a generous selection of poems (from some 50-60 poets), essays, translations and reviews.  The policy is not now as advertised:The editorial policy is catholic – David Miller, a member of our Editorial Board from No.1 to No. 18 summarised our beliefs in the following way: “[We] wish to highlight and promote those poets and poetic writers whose work [we] find challenging, singular, exciting – whatever, if any, their allegiances may be.” Present-day poetry would do well to recur to poetry as rhythmic structure and patters of sound instead of chatting along amiably in what is only nominally verse. The experience of poetry as sound demands craftsmanship, a training in rhythm, metre, and phonology (the colour of Rimbaud’s vowels!), something to be recommended to young poets if they want their...

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Six Poets in Poetry London

Posted by on 20 05 15 in Poetry | 0 comments

Poetry London bills itself as ‘one of the very few, essential poetry magazines in English’, where ‘newer authors share pages with acclaimed contemporary poets.’ The magazine is published three times a year, contains comprehensive poetry listings, and has ‘featured new poems by such distinguished contemporary poets as Alice Oswald, Sean O’Brien, Ciaron Carson and Pauline Stainer, and reviews of work by John Burnside and Mimi Khalvati.’ Only one year is represented by the Poetry Library London’s selection, and many poems are not on line for copyright reasons. Nonetheless, with all excuses made, the obvious has to be said: work by the big names is generally dull, if not downright tiresome, and the poetry of the others, the newcomers, doesn’t usually earn its line length: i.e. it’s often spun out, prosy, and verging on the pedestrian. Two problems seem general....

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10 Poets in Poetry Cornwall

Posted by on 25 04 15 in Poetry | 5 comments

The 2009-2010 editions of Poetry Cornwall yield a fine crop of poems to commend to discriminating readers. Yes, this is local fare with all that the label implies – the simple, honest and homespun, generally unaware of international trends, or even of Modernism itself. Free verse predominates, but there’s more than a sprinkling of rhymed verse. Indeed, technically the most accomplished poem – Abigail Wyatt’s Mite – would not be out of place in a nineteenth-century publication. And if the local scenes are described with the loving attention to detail we find in amateur art society shows, they are none the worse for that. True, the really original, and that panache of the professional’s touch are absent, but so too is the mindless adoption of contemporary styles and themes that make the poetry of more prestigious journals such depressing...

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