This relates to a seven-volume series on British poetry 1960 to 1997 ('Affluence'). Not everything fitted into the books- whether brilliant late ideas or fits of neurotic indecision, material poured in which wasn't printed. Books get frozen, they have hard edges. Also you try to give them thematic unity. These numerous moments of indecision deal with poets I wasn't certain about or also ones who are good but who didn't fit into any of the books. The entries are in the order in which the articles appear on screen. Only items connected to the 'Affluence' project are listed. Click on the title to be instantly transported to the text of your wishes.
62 Socialist poetry of the 1950s
61 List of poets discussed
finder list of poets AD has written about. 140 people? Omigod. If "6000 poets were publishing in this period" you might ask about the others.
60 Critique of ‘Failure of Conservatism’
59 The Long Poem of the 1970s
After the political upsurge of 1968 poets ventured into a new complexity, where long poems played a particular role of building autonomy for the poetic text by constructing large-scale complexes of meaning, freeing the parts by means of the whole. The decline of the long poem was an index of pessimism about the new cultural possibilities.
58 remarks on gay sensibility in poetry
As I completely failed to discuss the distinctive gay sensibility in poetry, these are emails from someone (Daniel Andersson) explaining it to me. Pretty useful. How many more huge holes in my work are there. Ulp.
57 More on Anthony Thwaite
More info about the poetry of Anthony Thwaite from a travel book of his which I found in a library sale.
56 The Long 1950s
notes around or under the book which I published in 2012, and which is an attempt to write a history of the mainstream. Or moments from such a history. Could we say a catenary, a diadem...a stutter.
55 Poetry Yearbook 1976
There was an annual which listed all the works of poetry published in a given year. It only lasted 3 years as poets aren’t so interested in other poets. It didn’t sell. Anyway if you look through a volume of this, and you happen to recognise most of the names, due to a life spent hanging out on the poetry scene, it is very evocative. The theme is again all the stuff that I didn’t ever write about. Because it wasn’t very good. Given that not all 770 books published in this year (June to June) (and plus 88 anthologies) were desperately necessary, how does ‘under-representation’ connect to ‘over-publishing’?
54 Homage to Victor Carroon
Victor Carroon is a character in a 1953 TV serial by Nigel Kneale. This blog explores iconographic links between Nigel Kneale and Eric Mottram.
53 Poetry numbers again
Drops aesthetic appreciation to look at the overall dimensions of poetry publishing. This might give us some insight into 'under-representation'. The articulate write more & the better educated tend to be more articulate. Sigh. As if we didn't all know that at the age of 15. All those people you wish would articulate their feelings and all those other people you wish would stop articulating, please. That was absolutely masses. Now? yes now.
52 London School yada yada yada
Describes some of the problems with the whole slew of 'London School' to explain why everyone ignores them and points to the classic status of some of the London poets.
51 on Poetry Review 67/4
A close look at a single issue of ‘Poetry Review’ for 1978 which shows an early but critical stage of the developing mainstream hatred of the innovative sector. The insults to drive people away may be the origin of a border which keeps separate tribes apart. The development of a language to embody opinions which reject modernity without knowing what it is - the laying down of a pseudo-knowledge in a pseudo-description. A neo-conservative coup.
50 Sounds surround the icy waters underground: psychedelic poetry
Chapter circa 2002 deleted from 'Affluence'.
49 Poetry shopping list 2
This is an update of a list that was printed in 'Failure of Conservatism'. Benefiting from further reading, it has an extra 30 or so titles. It still runs from 1960 to 1997. Does this mean the first version was horribly incomplete? Er.
48 More on Council of Heresy
notes around or under the book 'Council of Heresy' (2009), which is about the heresy of writing off poets without understanding them but also a bit about poets not writing comprehensibly. The book sets out to explain how to read modern poetry. Wow! not a bad idea! When you set the edges of a book, there are always bits that don’t fit inside them. But these could be visible in a blog.
47 Mid-century poets
Brief notes on poets of the mid-20th century
46 Handlist of late 20th century poets (part 2)
45 Handlist of late 20th century poets (part 1)
Summary of work on poetry 1960-97 in the form of a handlist.
44 Psychoceramics again: ley lines etc.
Further light shed on a few passages of Allen Fisher’s “Place” by looking at sources on ley-lines and geopathology
43 Poems missing from the record
Notes on unpublished or un-republished poems and on doctoring the published record
40 Mid-century women’s poetry
Discussion of the general absence of women poets from the mid-century scene in Britain and the opposition between “femininity” and “feminism”. Comments on a phase when the share of women poets in new publication was maybe 12% - the 'valley bottom' from which it grew to 50%.
39 Sexuality and the body as phantoms terrorising poetry
Essay of circa 2000 which discusses changes in the way sexuality is discussed in poetry. One of the big changes of the 1960s was the ability to present sexual behaviour in art and the opportunity to talk about the central relationship of people’s lives in a serious way. This offered particular problems for poetry, where the level and complexity of people’s inhibitions were taken as the qualification for them using high language in a legitimate way.
38 Self-adornment in sixties poetry
Interpretation of the new aspects of poetry in the 1960s through decoration and self-display. discusses the art of the 1960s in terms of its exaltation of the person of the artist and the assimilation of verbal art to self-adornment. As if the excessive amount of information flying around demanded a stronger projection of a coherent and personal message, a stronger beam. Elements in 'educated' art were also criticising the artist and trying to diminish the personality of any artist, but this enrolment of entire parts of the world in the task of self-adornment was happening too.
37. In Furthest Ferengistan
we ask the question 'can a poet have a foreign policy without also having gunboats, regiments of dragoons, investment banks, and so on?'
36. The Unlearned and the Unlearning
part of a project to deal with the entire cultural field by recovering the history of genres. This gets away from individuals altogether because they offer too much information. This piece deals with the idea of ‘naive’ poetry and related concepts such as myth, folk poetry, the naively grandiose, etc. It discusses outsider poetry and the role of the naive, the folk, the non-academic, in a poetic universe which withdraws from instrumental reason. The question of whether the professionals are the best poets or even whether they are disequipped for poetry by being educated.
35 Film as the skin of imaginary organs; or, chichi
an exploration of film and the work of John Wieners. Evaluates Doris Day and Jennifer Jones as the legitimate subjects of poetry in the modern era.
34. The history of the temporary: oral poetry
again tries to find the overall shape of poetry by defining one of its genres at the frontier with other media. Makes significant generalisations about oral poetry while claiming that you can’t write a history of something which is evanescent and happening in a hundred places every Friday might. So why am I writing analytical prose about it. Evokes Martin Booth’s enthusiastic book about the boom in readings circa 1964-74 while still finding that he only picks up the events he goes to and still doesn’t recover the whole history. Not even sure he captures what he saw.
33. Obscure and conventional poets; or, Bodgers
In which we take a step away from the sunlit heights of talent to look at an anthology of low attainment. Surely a feature of the scene is that most poets stringing poems together aren’t actually very gifted. Does this give us insight into a few thousand ineffective writers and their shed in the culture industry? does the state of not being conscious bring us consciousness?
32 Was there a School of London?
This recounts a nostalgic anecdote from the anarchist 70s in order to illustrate the ‘ideoles’ idea.
31 review of 'Departures' by David Wevill
the selected poems of one of the most significant poets to emerge in the 1960s
30 Equivocation 2
Attempts to use some incomplete figures to recover large-scale background changes in the scene over the past 50 years.
29. My errors and some numbers too
Ingeniously slides off from accusations of partiality by doing some burrowing and developing figures which might show that 6000 poets were publishing in this period so my partiality is utterly forgivable. Luminous honesty, or what?
28. Cohesion, or parataxis and hypotaxis
Continues the programme of ‘a primer of the avant garde’ by analysing the distinction between parataxis and subordinating syntactic patterns, and pointing to this distinction as a key innovation in the ‘new poetry’ in the 1960s.
27. What is shitgaze?
This discusses the lack of accurate terms for discussing modern poetry and wistfully pointed to the precision of rock vocabulary. In the cause of better mutual understanding we explore some classificatory terms, and especially the word 'mainstream'.
26. stephen-spender-and- the eternal-present
considers the special theory of time by which the individual is locked in ‘the cube of now’ where they can genuinely make decisions and so be truly conscious and so be authentic. Interprets some Spender poems as versions of Nikolai Berdyaev and his theology by which everything since the Crucifixion is an apocalyptic ‘end time’ where the social order is in disintegration and the individual must reveal themselves. Considers this attitude of ‘Christian existentialism’ as an imperative to value ‘personal style’ in poetry.
25. Equivocation, 1: The impossibility of comparison
We consider the project of comparing poets and ask whether it is possible to talk about historical change without accepting that various poets of the 1950s (let’s say) are ‘equivalent’ to various poets of the 1970s or 1990s. Is it possible to recover any story apart from the life curves of vocal individuals, for example by studying genres?
24. Legitimacy, impersonality, and role-detachment
a talk about ‘the society of the poem’ which connects means within poetry to the meaning of linguistic styles in the society outside poetry. In which we take on sociology in order to disengage certain class-related patterns in speech as recurring in poetic language.
23. The delivery of intimacy
Offers another interpretation of the whole era by positing that there is a ‘modern’ family pattern in which the education of the child is a central thing, and also with a high affective investment in the child. Further, that the poet has slipped into the role of the ‘favourite child’ subject to doting affection by the readers as quasi parents, and whose intellectual development is the realm within which the poem unfolds. Further that the ‘action’ in the poetic world has to do with struggles to occupy these roles, which by their nature most people must lose most of the time. Should poetry be either egocentric or autobiographical? why does personal style matter?
22 Robert Conquest and Charles Williams
an approach to the English 'central ideology' of empiricism via a forgotten episode from 1957
21. Carcanet and Some Contemporary Poets
In pursuit of a 'destruction of inhibitions' in which mainstream editors began accepting poetry with less of the conventional limits, and a 'new mainstream' emerged to exploit that, we look at the ideological origins of Carcanet and at a puzzling 1983 anthology. This is very detailed and connects to the 'ideoles' concept, getting away from a schematic history of ideology to look at concrete individuals making concrete decisions.
20. Time engulfed by subjectivity: historicism
follows the 'cube of now' by discussing the special view of history which holds that everything is obsolete except a tiny strip whose location is known only to the avant garde elite. Not surprisingly, this view is divisive and in fact may offer one of the key lines of division within the poetic field. looks at the ‘ideology of dominance’ of modernisation, the myth of legitimacy.
19 Sub-prime: the idea of the cliché
points out that poetry is everywhere on the edge of a big centre of material which it can’t use. This material has become worn out because it is attractive, by definition. tries to inject consciousness back into your unconscious realms. Could this be a mistake?
18. Privatisation and eccentricity
As an overall interpretation of the role of poets within the cultural field, we consider the notion of the eccentric, the outsider, the person who is free because they do not spend all day going through conventional patterns of consciousness.
17. Coherence and Exceptionalism
Tries to set up an explanation of distinctive features of the whole era by positing the disruption of perceptual expectations by larger real-world shapes as a satire on bureaucratic social models and their expectations. The anomaly as liberation. Literary convention as a form of bureaucracy that asks to be overthrown.
16. Rivals of poetry
tries to find the overall shape by reaching the edges of the poetic field, in this case by discussing its borders with adjacent genres and media whose extent limits the extent of poetry, whose failings open the borders of poetry. This is the topography. Yet poetry is parasitic on every other medium, because it can suck up information from everywhere and is ‘downstream’ of information flows rather than something primary.
15.Marginalia to Affluence
another collection of ideas which overflowed the project, or which didn't fit, or which I never worked out properly. This one partly about the Gaelic language.
14 Dunstan Thompson
another journey back into the forgotten 1940s, scripted as a film noir mystery
13. deleted by accident The Long Poem of the 1970s
12. Allotria and Allegros (Allott)
A lot of the work I did is about anthologies, because they are a mid-level between the individual and the entire scene, and because they show the external career of a poet as well as part of the internal one. One I spent a lot of time on was Kenneth Allott’s anthology of poetry 1918-60. I didn’t put this in the book because finally it wasn’t a very good anthology, it was a description of what was there before 1960 and my study began in 1960. This essay is mainly about the limits of individual choice, it starts with Allott and then turns the same criticisms on me.
asks whether there is any big story that can be composed from a million everyday transactions in the poetic world, and tries to locate a 'middle tier' of events around poetry which is not completely superficial but yet not abstract and unreal. Posits a tier of ‘ideoles’, smaller and more menial than ideas, as the routines of practical intelligence which we need to capture in order to explain what actually happened.
10. personal statement on 'Affluence, Welfare, and Fine Words'
partly a response to critics
9. map of 7-volume work on modern British poetry
Since the work is scattered over seven volumes you might want a map of the whole.
8. Death Cult and Dog Star
talk on Richard Aldington's 1935 poem, 'Life Force' and its iconographic links with Iain Sinclair. this is an approach to 'long poems of the 70s' by asking where English poets began to be interested in archaeology and anthropology.
7. Metakaluptical notes on the 1940s: the shared 40s project; or, The neo-Romantic Agony.
Notes on a large number of writers involved in the Neo-Romantic movement. Supplement to the work on the 1940s in 'Origins of the Underground'.
6. Eric Mottram, 'Peace Projects 4'
commentary on a poem by Eric Mottram, to follow up discussion on his interest in Henry Corbin, which I expounded as a connection between him and the ‘anti-modern‘ poet Kathleen Raine. ’PP4’ incorporates a prose narrative by Sohravardi as discussed by Corbin.
5. Accident Adventure, or: shopping list - the sequel...
I published a 'shopping list' of good books of British poetry published around 1960 to 1997. This is a follow-up which adds information I didn't have then.
4. Affluence project: central ethos
description of 'Affluence Welfare and Fine Words', a 7-volume project on British poetry 1960-97
3. Council of heresy (2)
extra material on ‘The Council of Heresy’, a book on poetry
2. Origins of the Underground
bibliographical essay explaining the background to Origins of the Underground, a book on poetry and the links between the 1940s and the 1960s
1. 'The council of heresy'
essay on sources for this 2009 book