Saturday, 25 December 2010

handlist of late 20th century poets (part 2)

Handlist of late 20th century poets
(born after circa 1950) (NB my project stops in 1997 so there is a cut-off there)

John Seed (1950), Marxist poet and social historian from Durham writing in a pristine neo-Objectivist style based on Oppen. History Labour Night (1984); Interior in the Open Air (1993); Pictures From Mayhew: London 1850 (2005); That Barrikins: Pictures from Mayhew 2 (2007).

In the midst of danger distance
Thinking ourselves
What the language tells us
Isn't there out of danger
A kind of half whisper
Breathing death in every place the
Face of London
Mask of a mask through a linen sheet
The dead-cart's night-errand
Spreading from that house to
Other houses
By the visible unwary conversing
Strangers dangerous
Rich and poor together
And people have it that know it not
(from 'Decision and Visibility')

Robert Hampson (1950?), from Liverpool, wrote the classic Objectivist/ documentary history of the town, Seaport (latest edition 2010); Assembled Fugitives is a selected poems 1973-98; Explaining the Colours (2010). Associated with the London School of the 1970s, co-edited Alembic.

Tony Lopez (1950?) mainly a performance artist in the 70s, also has a long term interest in bird watching - maybe the two merge from time to time? Wrote volumes in the process oriented style - 'Change' was one of the major long poems of the 70s. Moved to a more discursive style, peaked with Stress Management (1994). False Memory [1996] shows either typical overuse of a rhythm over several volumes or else having the key to relating politics to domestic circumstance. see http://angelexhaust.blogspot.com/2010/03/long-poem-of-1970s-feature-of-1970s-was.html

But what if all those incomplete adventures—
All those expeditions set up with the fetish
Of gleaming equipment: metal, leather, ropes,
Straps and fine boots, crampons and ice axes—
What if the whole project
Of fractured narratives, of pulp-novel collage,
Of technical idioms stripped of context
Is finally an alibi for moral collapse?
I don't mean relaxed sexual arrangements
Or even bathhouse promiscuity
But walking out on dependents,
Selling personal loyalty, integrity,
For the next fix of junk or fame.
What if the art itself is a fabrication
Of actual and terrible guilt; touched up
With sprayed-on essence of faded photo
Like a jungle-ad for choc-ice,
Snap-on Raj for upmarket snack-food
Or high camp in a panama hat?
(from ‘Northern Lights’ from Stress Management)

Adrian Clarke (1950?), long-term presence in the London avant garde scene. involved in performance poetry. edited Angel Exhaust, and edits AND and the Writers Forum series. Shadow Sector (1988). Spectral Investments (1991); Obscure Disasters (1993) are part of a trilogy called 'Ghost Measures', which consists throughout of lines of four words, with certain exceptions which are of eight words each. The preset line-model is a row of blanks, hence ghost measures, cf. also the spectre in 'spectral investments' (i.e. cultural or emotional investments). The effect of these insistent and asyntactic incisions in continuous verbal material is like a beatbox:

politics occulted pronomial freeze
frames narrative ellipsis exit
to clarify the door
slammed contextual by default
in Armorica the analogue
absolute magnitude bibliographic in
another perspective a closed
system speeds up to
proliferate the factual summary
at the event horizon

(from OD, 3); Doing the Thing; Possession, poems 1996-2006. His poetry is noticeable for its pace and can be described as dromoscopic (as described by Paul Virilio), to intensely exciting effect. It is somewhat in the manner of Raworth. Obliterating the rational tier of syntax allows a large-scale picture of contemporary politics and society to emerge in the fascinating emptiness.

Frank Kuppner (1951), labyrinthine and anti-realist poet from Glasgow. early poems emerging in 1983 saw the start of the new ludic current, sealed with his awesome debut volume of 1984, improvisations on the illustration to a history of Chinese painting. A Bad Day for the Sung Dynasty was one of the classics of the new playful and hedonistic poetry which emerged, in the aftermath of over-politicisation, in the early 1980s. Has been seen as the ideal game to while away the time while you're unemployed due to a right-wing government dogma. Influenced by Edwin Morgan.

5
Observe the casements behind which lamps are shining.
It looks as if the whole city is preoccupied
On this gloomy, nondescript autumnal evening.
Why is a confused humanity wasting so much light?

6
The man slumped, dreaming, in the small pavilion
Is the same man as the one climbing the mountain path towards him.
In a minute or so, he shall pass by very close.
Although not quite close enough for recognition.

7
The scholars have gathered in a clearing in the wood.
Nervously at first, but with ever-growing enthusiasm,
They begin to discuss the insoluble problems of existence.
Soon, the forest resounds to their obscene drinking songs.

(from Second Best Moments in Chinese History)


Ralph Hawkins (1951?) Welsh poet and founder of the Essex School. edited Ochre magazine in the 70s. Early on wrote hippy pastoral poetry embodying leisure and calm: Word from the One, soft in the brain, more and more, But It May Be So. Wrote off-brand Chinese poems like so many others. Pasted up concrete and collage assemblies with Cobbing (Gloria, Pool). late work is indescribable but by far the best: The Coiling Dragon, The Scarlet Bird, The White Tiger, A Blue & Misted Shroud, The Moon the Chief Hairdresser (highlights), Gone to Marzipan.

I have not learned from experience
I have followed neither the line of fortune nor the line of desire
I have studied the imprint left upon the mattress
I have attained the possession of a shadow
I have yearned for the coming synthesis
I am unwilling to compromise with the dialectic
I reject the mechanical softening of contradiction
We could just kiss and kiss and kiss?You could give up and live your life (!)
I take no pleasure in what the world cares for
I have built a house of osmanthus wood
I have planted an orchard of orange and pumelo
I will cross that gate when I open it
(from The Coiling Dragon The Scarlet Bird The White Tiger A Blue & Misted Shroud )

Jeremy Reed (1951-)uncontrollably prolific poet whose first pamphlet came out in 1972. represents the dominance of the 'intimacy' tradition in English poetry, permanently regarding small personal feelings as more real than anything else, and raising the feelings of bedrooms and small gigs to heroic dimensions. Has published some 30 books, more than I could track down (maybe 40?). It took four people to put his selected poems together (not finished yet). His masterpiece is presumably 'Stratton Elegy', from 1978 (printed in Black Russian. Outtake from the Airmen's Club, 2011).

a damaged mind rolled on a black marble
into an incandescent yellow flue:
the burn-back registers on my ticket
to the escalator, to fuming gaps
between the circuit of blood-stained mummies,
crooking like geese in pursuit, and the dolls,
(their features twisted), who pursued you through
the subways, wound up with aggressive teeth

67
pincering your ankles. They have returned
to feed other psychoses, to spit white lead
into the pineal. There is no space
living or dead we can retreat into
or realize with impunity
[...]
Homunculi
Floating above the Circus, no torsos,
but frog-like flippers attached to a skull
too magnified for microcosmic space.
A ka-prism through violet through orange,
and when recognized in the temporal,
it was something husking its wings at Kew,
an insect flisking on a leaf of eyes.

(from 'Stratton Elegy')

Maggie O’Sullivan (1951-) star of the London avant garde scene. writes ecstatic nature poetry in a radically primeval and non-discursive style. evacuation of syntax makes for dense, pounding, stresses, in discontinuous, constant, peaks. Interested in concrete poetry and incantations. Influenced by Barrie MacSweeney (the Odes period). Alto. London Poems 1975-84 (2009) collects earlier work. Body of Work (2006) collects pamphlets from the 1980s. Withdrew to Yorkshire and signed on at the same job centre as Michael Haslam. Seems to have written little since leaving London. House of the Shaman (1993). Palace of Reptiles (2003).


Robert Minhinnick (1952-) Most gifted poet of his generation within the Anglo-Welsh tradition. The selected poems virtually defines that line of realist and communalist writing with its sociological accuracy. Edited Poetry Wales (dates?). Developed remarkably during the 1990s and left or re-invented that tradition. Moved roughly from 'communalist' to 'rustbelt poet' to 'magic realism' and thus became the heir to Dylan Thomas. He realised he could be a world poet and not just the best Anglo-Welsh poet. One of the most important poets now writing. Selected Poems (1999); After the Hurricane (2002); King Driftwood (2008).

Robert Saxton (1952) from Nottingham. poet with an awesome inventiveness of language. seems to be preoccupied with puzzling ornate formal schemes. has no preference for themes and seems willing to dissolve into language itself. Hard to compare to anyone else but verbal games are an ancient pastime of mankind. The poems are singular and varied. The Promise Clinic (1994); Manganese (2003); Local Honey (2007). Saxton is a 'throw forward' from an era of virtuosi in rhyme. The burden, I think, is one of freedom: the unlikeliness of anyone finding so many rhymes points to an unimaginable complexity of unused possibilities which is, in itself, beautiful and soothing. The corollary, that the poem is not restricted by the urgency of unambiguous and 'significant’ experiences, is also a message about freedom: that biographical experience is not so tyrannical and unambiguous as a wave of biographical poets had it. That is, freedom again.
There is a value of rhyme which is not to do with jingling ornament but with statistics and probability. The various clauses of the mathematics which underlie language and the language faculty.


Alison Brackenbury (1953), Dreams of Power and Other Poems (1981), Breaking Ground and other poems (1984), Christmas and other Poems (1988), 1829 and other poems (1995), Bricks and Ballads (2004). impressive lyric poet of a conservative bent.

David Greenslade (1953), Welsh nationalist writing in English and occasionally in Welsh. Burning Down the Dosbarth (1992) was the only work in English published by the series of Y beirdd answyddogol. inspired by conceptual art to work in projects where fixed rules generate unique outcomes. Creosote (1996); Each Broken Object (2000), Zeus Amoeba (2009), Dark Fairground (2009).

Nigel Wheale (1953-) lives in Orkney. one of the Cambridge school, at a moment in the mid 70s when things were getting more politicised and less pastoral. Writes from a Left critique of the power order and with an interest in popular culture as something opposed to that. Has written about postmodernist culture and at one stage wrote high-tech postmodernist poems. Raw Skies. New and Selected Poems (2006).

In the high-tensity gallery case
gold foil leaves on an ancient alexandrine lover's crown
shiver to the skip of a far-down seismic beat.

Lean stealth-swallows vector thru haze
hanging at edge of the waves' teeth
on the slide, on the slip
snorting volatile chaparral oils,
keyed-up on air tone
over degrading quartzite earth,
updraughting on subalpine bliss
gifted from the color-blushed peaks above,
delicate as faded frescoes gracing a by-passed Diner.
(from 'Arroyo Real')



Jo Shapcott (1953), writes vivid poems with a prudently exact deployment of fantasy and surrealism. represents a new atmosphere in the mainstream of poetry in the 1980s, a decisive break with certain inhibitions. Phrase Book; Her Book: Poems 1988-98; Tender Axes.

Kevin Nolan (1953-), prominent member of the Cambridge poetry world who began publishing poetry in the late 90s. Loving Little Orlick (2006) is his one full-length book. An extraordinary development from 1960s Prynne.

it is the poetry of mourning
yet to come, the fold in generation we give our name
by gravity of certain apple boughs, milk and soil in
catalytic looping, to make ends new and never meet,
last resting place each second skin, each silhouette
on a filthy bench our almond, our stranger
My almond and my stranger—
since there is no shade where we end, even broad daylight
asks a whiteness to burn by its steady archive: I heard you
once speak the green months, in joy to the immanence
each wild psalm failed, whose will was light and one
with the terminal exstase of the counterlife, and
never paled or trimmed but signed at the very lip
I hear now, bloodline
of the phoenix flamed,
the entire bit-thing,
radial eternity
(from 'Broca's Fold')

Graham Hartill, (1954?) English poet who has lived in Wales for many years. Began with an interest in landscape art and moved into poetry. Was part of the Cardiff offshoot of the English Intelligencer school of interest in geography, landscape, and mythology. An interest in Chinese poetry was a side-effect of this. Ruan Ji's Island and Tu Fu in the Cities (1993); Cennau’s Bell (2005), a large selection of poems 1980-2001; A Winged Head (2007).

Ian Duhig (1954), from Leeds, a poet with a deep affinity for punk and quite unabraded radical ideals whose rare command of sophistication and cultural erudition produced some astonishing poetry. The Bradford Count (1991)is his major work. The Mersey Goldfish followed. His third book The Lammas Hireling (2003) showed a new admiration for folk styles which chased out literary interest almost altogether. The wish to be Shane McGowan needed more restraint.

It is the Night of Power and the puppeteers
are playing Karaguez, Martyr to Chastity.
Nubian grooms are breaking cameleopards.
Janissaries line their cloaks with lynx.

Sultan Mahmoud shows off his new French wife
on a caique drawn by jewelled fish.
They fan the Bosphorus like a wedding train
with an escort of heartbroken gulls.

The pirates came down upon Baltimore
like gulls to romp a bucket of fish-heads.
A traitor's black cross marked us on their maps;
they laid another black cross upon us.

(from 'The Irish Slave')

John Muckle (1954) Fire Writing and Other Poems, (2005) a searing set of social realist poems which does not fit in with anything else and is neglected because it is so isolated. Muckle studied at the University of Essex and met a number of poets later known as the Essex School. Ralph Hawkins was a significant figure in this group. He was a writer of prose fiction until circa 2003 but was in touch with advanced poetry. He devised and managed the 1988 anthology the new british poetry, co-ordinating various section editors, and completed this shortly before leaving Paladin. This anthology ended the 'exile' phase of Underground poetry.

Peter Philpott (1954-) part of the Underground scene of the 1970s and edited Great Works magazine. Published Some Action Upon the World and Nine Men’s Morris at this time. After a break, related perhaps to the political disarray of those in power and out of it, made a breakthrough into major poetry after 2000. The long elegiac and narrative poems in Textual Possessions (2003) and Are We not Drawn (2009) are astonishingly ambitious and complete, incorporating debate about poetry with contemplation of the sea and the mysteries of biology.

Moniza Alvi (1954-) debuted with The Country at My Shoulder (1993); Carrying My Wife (2000) collects earlier volumes. Drawing on ’magic realism’ modes of dealing with exotic geography. Influenced by Jo Shapcott, adapting her surrealism to the ‘double reality‘ of being of dual Pakistani and English culture.

Hilary Llewellyn-Williams, fond of deep subjectivity and New Age themes. The 1990 volume The Tree Calendar and the 1997 work Book of Shadows, which narrates scenes from the life of Giordano Bruno of Nola, are included in a collected volume, Hummadruz (2001). While the writing is unusually clear; it is like a brocaded quilt, warm and rich and saturated. Bright colours, rippling patterns. Symmetrically placed decorative elements, long sequences.

Robert Sheppard (1955) part of the London School in the 80s and like them wrote in an asyntactic manner which allowed for brief blazes of energy. Had a rock sensibility. Putting short emphatic poems together at monumental length ('Twentieth Century Blues') has not struck everyone as a good idea. The energy can lead to repetition and a lack of nuance. Followed Allen Fisher's work of the 1970s in presenting the modules as units that can be linked together in different ways, allegedly to different effects. The indeterminacy is seen as politically progressive. Has written propaganda for the spectrum slice of poetry he believes in (The Poetry of Saying, 2005).

Jamie McKendrick (1955), brilliantly gifted poet who is one of the arguments in favour of the (revived) mainstream. sophisticated and entertaining, a master of the affable spoken tone. Kiosk on the Brink; Sky Nails: Selected Poems.

Kelvin Corcoran (1956), major figure of the middle generation that followed Prynne and Fisher. Radically critical poet seeing paradoxes and self-betrayals in public life, informed by Adorno. Has been linked with the Essex School. Lyric Lyric (1993); New and Selected poems (2004); Backward Turning Sea (2008). interview in DSMT.

David Dabydeen, (1957) Comes from the Indian ('East Indian') population group in Guyana but has lived here for many years. An academic specialising in the sociology of Caribbean writing who has published a significant body of poems (Coolie Odyssey [1988], Turner [1994]).

John Goodby (1958), from Birmingham. generally seen as part of a school of far Left/ satirically oriented poets in Leeds, with Ian Duhig. Marginal politics led to a special view of history. Was one of the primary anti-thatcherite poets. Moved towards the avant garde. Illennium (2010) is probably his best work. Has lived in Ireland and Wales for long periods, and wrote a standard work on modern Irish poetry. Translated Heine's 'A Winter's Tale' and Pasolini's "Gramsci's Ashes". A Birmingham Yank (1998); uncaged sea (2008); Wine Night White (2010). Early appearance in 'Faber Poetry Introduction 8', 1993.

The vodka jelly arrived without you at the party. Pity.
It was blue! Though I would retaliate—
A sonnet one more than a baker’s dozen
undesigning gifts on your supernal grinning candour
(Yeah. Eye candy, you smoking dog!) The Westbourne
Concealed in rotten smoaks
In Frenzy, blondes wearing antique underwear
are vividly hidden, self-referentially strangeled in it.
Zephyrs, Zodiacs & Avengers cruise London streets
in sunlight, a tsunami of booze & sparklers. Was I 13 then?
(from 'Illennium')

Michael Ayres (1958), prolific and advanced poet specialising in the impact of the visual-technological. Poems 1987-92. Later work is too expansive in the tradition of extended dance mixes, luxuriating in variations (am, 2003?).

We meet almost every day now
in buildings of paper, by broken columns,
in streets of ambiguous proportions:
we meet in Fake Tombstone
where the saloon doors swing on their tarot hinges
and the origami thesis of a colt trots by
in a dust of print which covers the ground like ash
and which old tortoise eyes have secreted
dreaming their journals of tears:
we meet in a folded city and a closed town
topped by a papier-mâché acropolis.
(from 'Marshal')


Robert Crawford (1959) Christian poet, part of Informationist group in 1980s, which largely meant followers of Morgan. Sharawaggi (1990, in collaboration with W.N. Herbert) is a classic of writing in Scots and of Informationism. also functions as a literary manager not loved by all avant garde poets in Scotland. Writes avant garde poetry which escapes destructive attention from other managers because of his status as professor and Elder of the Kirk. Spirit Machines (1999).

I love my home, its lares et penates
Of broken shoe buckles, balls of green wool,
Needles, its improvisatory architecture
Feeding my work with interruptions, turns
Snatched, forty-winked; stashed seed pearls in a dish
Radiate homely, incarnational light

Sometimes the green walls glimmer, elverish,
Phosphorescent, spectrally alive,
Razorfish splay galvanized medium's fingers
Seeking burnished heads of polyps and carrageen
Brocaded with plankton, muzzled by antlered snails,
Vulval, brasslit, flecked and veined and washed

Dinner-suited Auchterlonian clubmen
Fill the fishtank windows of the R & A;
(from ‘Impossibility’)


David Kennedy (1959) published President of the Earth, new and selected poems, dating from the mid-1980s onward according to the jacket. I enjoyed this, a reception of the New York School. The book also includes a kind of avant-garde pastoral, based on programmed repetition and recombination of inherited lines, which is less effective.


***

Simon Smith (1961) part of the wave of 'avant garde neoclassicism' impacted by the huge retrospectives of the English avant garde put out by Allardyce, Barnett in the 1980s. Debuted with Night Shift (1991). masterpiece is 15 Exits (2001). Later work is more influenced by the New York School (Mercury; Reverdy Road). interview in DSMT.

then one fine day everything exactly
as you've guessed —the
sound Byzantine,
an average weekender on patrol greedy for the stuff
teethes prior to the feast. My love is a child and a bawd
pulled the knife on me.
Documentaries stoke up a fever till my pockets sag. The cabinet
crammed, trompe d'œil adding to torment,
but no formal suffering I've practiced
my survival technique for the day, deep, deep blue cleared of hinderance.
At Yalta you might, inventing countries nobody ever heard of. Idle hours
the weight a bluish hue,
sideburns dove-grey dash about the real economy, a price on your head,
ditched judgments of yesteryear
packed with solar
energy, askance to the gift I regret, the next of kin 50s style
slumped in a pink easy chair.
It reads like a book but rejects the flavour.
Maybe I'll learn Welsh. Albeit the loops are mine.
(from 'Fourth Hymn to Venus')

W.N. Herbert (1961) began with Dundee Doldrums, written entirely in the 'unfashionable' dialect of Dundee. This was ferocious satirical realism rooted in everyday experience in Dundee. Part of the Informationist group (with Crawford, Price, McCarey). Was probably at a peak in the 80s. A widespread view is that the pressure of producing endless new work to fulfil the terms of grants and so on led to a dropping-off. He began writing entirely in English. He also decided he could write comic verse and that he had similarities to the gay, colloquial and brilliantly cultured, New York poet Frank O'Hara. Not everyone agreed with this and the books written in this direction are not widely admired. Forked Tongue (1994) shows his full vigour.

I was James Young Geddes, Whitmanic in Dundee,
calling vengeance down on Cox and Baxter,
inventing Glendale as their apogee,
the terrible Jute-Lord, revealing to my public
his crab-like face, he who could be
man and factory at once;
a mausoleum-like amalgam, mounting the slopes
of the Law Hill, flexing his stalk-eyed clock-towers,
'Lit up at night, the discs flare like angry eyes
in watchful supervision, impressing on the minds
of the workers the necessity of improving
the hours and minutes purchased
by Glendale & Co.'
I did not flinch as he ate my fellows whole

(from 'Ticka Ticka Glendale', and quoting James Young Geddes)


DS Marriott, (1963) from Gedling, a borough on the edge of Nottingham. now lives in California. Family of West Indian origin, raised as a Catholic. Did a doctoral study on Prynne and began with work very deeply in the line of Prynne. Associated with the 'avant garde neoclassicism' wave of the late 1980s, which went back to the highest points of the Cambridge School and dismissed what had come in between. This can be seen as an expression of belief in the decay of the avant garde. More recent work, since the late 90s, has been more straightforward and more political and angry. Incognegro shows this later period. The Ship Called Lubek collects early work. The Lubek was the first English ship known to have carried slaves and was owned by Queen Elizabeth I.

Both mud and light
archetypal transparency, carved into
tapestries & bronze vantage. Humour
laid in stone-rush, & ritual light
gilding earthly stone. Then we move
on: Strasbourg worldly, tempered by
analogy & foliage, knowing this to
be the last act. There, ripened deed
tithed to bewilderment & profound
investiture. A song of Dowland teemed
over substance, fathered time-fear.
Then to leave: furred to a cold
seasoning, scoped to an impure centre.

(from 'In Darkness')

Tim Atkins. (1963-) author of unfailingly ingenious and self-aware and pleasurable poems. Books include Folklore. To Repel Ghosts. Horace. A Thousand Sonnets. In 'Horace' a Latin phrase about 'many winters' comes out in the English version as 'Johnny and Edgar' (Winters), so "Edgar & Johnny/ cling to the raider's spunk/ more splendid than the Starkeys'/ thin pamphlets & halitosis/ on the neck of/ translations". The debris of European culture litter a theme park with convenient cafes. Unlike anything else, or can be seen as a development of the New York School.

I was the boss of the poem when I was in it but what will all this mean in 10, 15 ears? Now that I'm here I'm not sure. But I wanted a bite. Is there nowhere? I wonder. Every little line falls out of me like fats. Pressing my mouth sounds. Pretending I'm still in. Projectile vomiting. Projective verse. I want to build a big thing that can throw everything in & when it is then I'll tell you. But what's left? Reading this. If I had started to quote what I stole from the reading I might as well have put on a dress. For us in any language. There's a reason to see how it invades the body and takes it but for the first time there are times. When I have been so much inside. That great intellect. Always in stories. What if we set up a restaurant & stopped worrying? Hose, pen, dialect. This was written with my nose. I wanted to end up happy but the saddest line is one that begins. First thought worst thought. If you ever die, never do it to hide.

(from 'To Repel Ghosts')

Elisabeth Bletsoe (1963), comes from Dorset. Was part of a group of writers in Cardiff in the 1990s who were interested in performance and in writing about landscape and myth. Early books are now collected in Pharmacopeia (2010). Moved back to England and works in a museum. Expert in herbs. Landscape From a Dream collects her classic later work, combining a radical interpretation of landscape (mainly in Dorset) with the psychological unity and dramatic unfolding of performance work. Is one of the greatest readers of poetry. interview in DSMT.

To orient: to bring into clearly understood relations, to determine how one stands. Quincunxial signs I thread along by; A's magic well, church, folly, trendle, sky-notch. Beak through stone, the one who tracks me, and the other for whom I wait. High Stoy, Dogbury Hill wave a fringe of dark, concentrate the toxin rape-fields, xanthin & arsenic yellow. One field flares and then another, under the wheel of cloud. Drunk on rare pollens I would dance on this floor of lights, finger-hoops of earth spraying, apricot-coloured and friable. Serrated with pig-huts, dry as a kex. To study the architectonics of hog-weed. To unpack the poppy-bud of its outraged silk, corolla visibly hurt to the end of its days.

I torce the necks of wounded gamebirds,
shock of come-apart cervicals, reflex
wingjumps, (feeling)
a pulse not my heart,
the once-complete potential in
soft declensions of egg-buds
(from 'Cross-in-hand')


Giles Goodland (1964), undertakes systematic poems which take on the underlying complexity of the universe, in a radically anti-personal way. Simultaneously exploits the complexity of data storage systems as ’givens’ and the power of generating language arbitrarily. One of few poets to face up to the complexity of modern knowledge and not regress within the 'personality envelope’. "Towards the end I got broadband and found it easier to simply paste my research from various databases straight into the poem.": in campaigns like this, Goodland seems to be taking on the idea of the ego as a data editing agent, highly mobile and 'trapped' in a universe of data stores. Everyone sees it something like this but 'personal poetry' has usually not caught up. Littoral (1996?), A Spy in the House of Years (2001), Capital (2006), What the Things Sang (2009). interview here: http://intercapillaryspace.blogspot.com/2006/11/collage-capital-interview-with-giles.html

The poetry of David Rushmer (1965) represents an unusual state of mind, and all seems to start from that point. Can be taken as a discovery of something underlying usual states of mind. Unclear if the source is personal experience or a dogma advocated by various French avant garde writers. Presents its theses in a crystalline way even if they are less than credible. spine: works (1989), Absence (1989), sand writings (1990)

Sarah Law similar to Llewellyn-Williams but within a Christian framework. Ascension Notes (2009); Perihelion (2006). language is highly coloured, too much for some people. Gothic, even. Fulfils the main theme of the era, that secularism is too hard and 'theological' religion has to be personalised and fitted into the feelings and longings of the individual. Decorative and expressive rather than logical.

Richard Price, member of Informationist school. Perfume and Petrol.

Alice Oswald (1966) nature poet representing a revival of the mainstream during the 1990s. Dart (2002) was a fascinating poem-documentary about the river.

Niall Quinn, Nick Macias, and Nic Laight, the group represented in the astounding debut However Introduced to the Soles (1995); wild and extreme avant garde poets. The collective volume seemed equally capable of bringing the whole poetry world to a halt and of being instantly suppressed from official memory. It lacks discursive meaning but is perfect on the planes of intuition and revolt. May not represent the Welsh avant garde as Laight is English and Quinn Irish. Why were they in Wales? Who knows. Form-up zone was probably Bridgend.

Extracting up,
he denial Earth,
Evolved stage
stage white upside embryo,
through venture emerald in mountain
paper mouthed, my so opened,
Daddy, makes of for serving,
in composer, me angel arms baby chain,
one crystal dream, on we, just recipes within,
womb always work,
cutting shower ahead,
here, that alive,
Daffodils, the from eyes,
The, & all, scrape earth,
in composers table,
may standing, born child,
serving all, head in ease,
(NS Macias from 'Red')


Vittoria Vaughan, (1970-) intuitive Jungian poet whose only volume is The Mummery Preserver. see http://pinko.org/13.html for a review

open to light, shadows spin
and whirr resonantly, as tongue
unhooks pendulum motes and
claws beamed clepsydra,

drive springs and spring-drives rhythmically,
forcing fusee's final jolting breath.
everything rests, a spell
girds ticking again,

- flea's incisors, wing of bat, chrysalis grains -,
chattering pinions are covertly silenced,
finally, anchor escapement disintegrates,
abracadabra: all disappears.

only a face is left: alabaster,
glass and paper

(from 'The Clocks of Kitezh')

Paul Holman His poetry is indefinable but is laconic, occultist, and attached to the line of revolutionary and subversive yearnings. The Memory of the Drift (one volume published 2007 as 'Books I-IV') is a still continuing long-term project.

too severe to accept
some woodland king
for his model.
In delirium
the yellow waste bag
became an animal
and delicate red bird life
crackled in the harsh air
of the isolation ward.
Of course I am no better
than a déclassé market trader.
Horus: This wine is corked  

Deryn Rees-Jones, (1968-) noted dweller in the 'third zone' which is neither mainstream nor avant garde. did a major 'recuperative' anthology of women’s poetry, Modern Women Poets, of much use to historians. The Memory Tray (1994); Signs Around a Dead Body (1998), Quiver (2004).

Peter Manson (1970?) from Glasgow. More or less encompasses the Scottish avant garde. edited (with Robin Purves) Object Permanence, the only avant garde Scottish magazine. His poetry is hard to define but is laconic, obscure, and attracted to Mallarme (whom he has translated). Birth Windows (1999). For the Good of Liars (2006). Between Cup and Lip (2008).

The walls' burden, Erato, appended
as who will speak, linear gold
Collapse thought down to the sixty
words you own, dumb in impaction
An epitaph's outflow in beeswax,
the twice-reddened wick
--
speechcraft(from ‘Widows and Orphans (rhetorical fragment)’)

Sean Bonney (1973?) spent his early career in Manchester and Nottingham but benefited later from contact with the London scene around Writers Forum. stands for the continuing strength and integrity of English radicalism, the surviving hopes for a better social order. Blade Pitch Control Unit, is a definitive collection of his work to that point. Document (2009). The Commons (2011). Has benefited from the legacy both of Blake and of anarchism. interview in 'DSMT'.

Helen Macdonald (1973?) already a poetic prodigy as an undergraduate. had a greater natural gift than anyone around her. A volume finally came out in 2001, Shaler’s Fish. Interested professionally in ornithology, but apparently interested in everything. Has not shared the interests of her contemporaries and has appeared detached from the need to write poetry.

Pleat the grounds they have scripted
as such, plus plumage, quiet lunches
on the hotel lawns slipping forward
'til we sense some dutiful square
and stop, pulling the whole rueful shore
to a ha ha, a net around practical ankles
ah, how the hay smokes
into papaverous skies
as we address the heights of the C20th
in a poplin shirt, all declamatory and tired
with a suit that seals to rest these soft
& perfect metals. The organization
owes everything; is fit to tweak
a neuralgic scene reading Auden
beneath a naked sheet in stormy cupolas
where the coupled latch and larchlap twitter
breaks sleet print through the cigarette
dries trays of warm roses & vocable ash
as hands permitting a multiple
sleepless walk for the uninked signatory
(from 'Tuist')

Daniel Lane, pupil of John James and author of entrancing lyric poetry of the evanescent moment. Stuff Culture and Wrecks in Ultra-Sound both came out in 1995.  

skipping along the happy surface
so you have it now to hand and
written down in your feather gloves
to bias nature's first penetrating
self-sustaining auto-erotic rule/that begins
absorbing the soft metallic impression
formed here as the imperfected gossamer of your
dress as a leaf drifts from a bird's nest and
the bird that also sweetly falls here
silent as the blown up image reflects
in damp light shows him howling while he recalls
how each job centres on escape pods little
beans flung across empty tables
(from 'Acetatae')

Khaled Hakim mainly known for partly improvised performance pieces, his published work is not extensive. Moved from the Birmingham arts scene to work at the Film Makers’ Co-Op in Camden, and his contribution to poetry was to re-introduce modern styles of narrative into it. As a performer, was provocative and specialised in exposing the audience’s inhibitions and cultural investments. Not everyone found this funny but it was certainly exciting. Family came from Sylhet. Associated with the magazines Equofinality and Angel Exhaust.

Deep personal unhappness is not a good start. How abowt mild malaize. Subsuming ideologs rancid little fuckups.
Deep personal conviction is never enow to make a curry. What we need is a job. Its nobody elses falt.
But also 'I' az an incomprehensible large part of th known univers. Everytime I look it fills it.
Cries fall from the page, iniquitus structures seep into prosody
poetry attracts the suffering fool, wile others program interactiv softwaer I am red
Now then wher are we. I have got somwere & Im no further than i started
We analyze from fundamental to randomness becuze its convenient. But in an infinitly extendable univers any point is an arbitrary set of relacions we alwayz find ourselvs in th midle of
but somwhere in this vector between Halesowen and Cradley Heath transendent meaning: sucsess
Wat we cal our lives arbitrary convencions establishd for owr habitual modes of perception—my producers let me down. Ive forgoten how old i am. Im overqualified az a secretary. Its too interesting to get an erection. Im living w/ my mom. I see haf an howr of daylite. Its dificult for relacions not to form in hyperspacial axes all concevable structurs
my life, as the saying gos, is compozd of thez tetrahedrons cubes octahedrons dodecahedrons icosahedrons rotated.
Do yu understand me too wel. Do yu understand me too wel. Ye fuckin dont yknow.
I got my langwage from TB Pawlicki. In the spirit of a raving sawcer paranoiack & dispassionat ironist of the new phyzics.
 
(from 'Letter from the Takeaway (2)')

Robert Smith In the 1990s, I saw a lot of his poems in typescript and published quite a few in Angel Exhaust. No book has followed and I think he has left not only poetry but academic life. The poems, each ten lines long, called sonnets, were quite exemplary, vivid and dream-like.

SKYBLUE LYRE BLACK THROAT
the box vibrates
& earthquakes out
into a wooden rose.
The wreaths are set,
wire twisted
round a martyr
head that hums
from heavenly crack
eyes slit upward.

Rob MacKenzie, a physicist by trade, of a Hebridean family and slightly resentful at being brought up English-speaking. Lived in Cambridge during the 90s and took part in the student poetry scene of the time. The poetry is advanced and hard to describe, the bilingual bits being the easiest to recognise. Off Ardglas (1997) is his only book.

that all meaning is solitary;
that the principal link is homophonic;
that plastic language's best found in word-lists;
that e-spell-checks save time best spent in dictionaries;
that effaced poetry is graphic art
that the temporal privileges painting
that painting poetry is more than writing it in anything but a prandial sense
that my response to my existence is necessarily dislocated, dismembered, effaced and solitary
that ((an)) analysis is privileged

(from '17 Points of Disagreement with Stephen Rodefer' from Invisible Reader)

Karlien van den Beukel, is the author so far of one brilliant book, Pitch Lake.

How I wept when it appeared
I was unequipped
to be an interpenetrative twin.

Yes, I have nothing
against the lamé underpantaloons of dawn
thrown over the Backs
whilst
taking the matitudinal interpluvium
in winsome
losesomeness.

This seems to be a critique of the Cambridge school, the ‘interpenetrative elite’. It argues some inside no knowledge, we think.

Handlist of late 20th century poets (part 1)

Handlist of late 20th century poets

pre-release version (part 1)

This is offered as reference sketches of careers, a few minimal details which may serve as orientation to the curious. After writing a compendious work on modern British poetry extending to 2000 pages, it occurred to me that I could do a low-calory version at about 1% of the length. Whether this is going to be helpful I do not know. For further and better particulars see http://www.modernpoetry.org.uk/nrsh.html , also http://www.archiveofthenow.com/ . For a map of which poets are discussed in which volume, see http://angelexhaust.blogspot.com/2009/08/map-of-7-volume-work-on-modern-british.html

This also gives me a chance to exploit the research into the Mainstream which I did roughly 2003-2010, so as to put poets from all parts of the spectrum into one frame for the first time. Poets writing in Gaelic and Welsh are included, at least marginally; my knowledge of these languages improves slowly.

This version is incomplete - I hope to add more names as I find the time. If you have other suggestions you can add comments and I will consider additions a year from now. The quotes are short enough not to give me copyright problems. This work was signed off in around December 2010.

DSMT is ‘Don’t start me talking’, a book of interviews. Ordering is roughly by decade of birth.

Poets

Tom Rawling (1916-96), a Cumbrian, published in 1993 Names of a Sea-trout, which includes some very good poems. The aesthetic is derivative of Hughes and Heaney to a remarkable degree – which makes it hard to write about him, and also reveals he was not writing poetry before 1976. His style is patient, full of physical details, without descriptions of feelings, compact, careful, vivid.

Reach through jutting thorns
for the blue-hazed sloe,
ignore the blood on your wrist.
Needle-prick to the hard stone,
watch their transfusion seep
through the gin.
(...)
taste
silk-sliding fire
of frost and thorns
and bitter fruit.
('Sloe Gin')
 
 
Edwin Morgan, (1920-2010) was one of the dissidents from the dominant 50s culture who plotted the breakthrough of a new culture in the 1960s. Is widely accepted as the greatest Scottish poet since MacDiarmid, and was officially national laureate. Was developing the ludic, dizzily creative, anti-realist, wholly decorative poetry, which was hailed in the 1980s, during the 1950s. More involved with European poetry than anyone in this list, and a great translator. Has written in virtually every genre and taken on the impalpable world of the random, the anti-human, the systems generated by artificial rules. Collected Poems 1949-87 was followed by several more volumes. see http://www.pinko.org/30.html  

Gerard Casey, (1921-2000) From Cardiff, published one poem, South Wales Echo (1973). He also published some translations from Greek, and the conclusion from idle searches of the Internet is that outside poetry he was interested in the esoteric and occult. In this he was close to Watkins and Kathleen Raine. As a poet, he was influenced by David Jones.

James Berry, (1924) Jamaican poet who has lived here for many years. has written a small number of intense and melancholic poems which pick up the burden of history. Hot Earth Cold Earth (1995). Has been a painstaking anthologist of other Caribbean poets in Britain (News for Babylon, 1984). has also written for children.

Eric Mottram (1924-95), not really an important poet but features here because he was such a key figure on the scene. Even though most of his poetry is so bad, exposing all the problems with the ‘open field’ style, some of his poems (‘Tunis’ and even bits of ‘Peace Projects’) are quite good.
 
after coffee in the Heliopolis Hotel 1955
under dome and propeller out to Giza
crawling night into the Great Pyramid
down the stone tube to a centre

thunder of beaten sarcophagus weight of stone measures
in that night a terror of ignorance I should have quieted
meditated on measure but framed by knowledge I lived blind
old untouched by harmonia mundi and magic techne
(from 'Homage to Denis Saurat', from the 1973 book Local Movement)

Eric coined the phrase ‘British Poetry Revival’, relating to the period 1960-74. Interview in DSMT. Also see posting elsewhere on this site.

Asa Benveniste (1925-90), Benveniste was a GI who stayed on in Paris after the war and worked on a literary magazine there. He never returned to America. His profession was as a printer and his interest was in Jewish mysticism (with some offshoots in Renaissance magic). Publisher of Trigram Press. His poetry is esoteric, dazzling, light as air, even psychedelic.

surmounted by butterflies sleeping asses
and thick rainwear assigning tickets
to aragonese boxes where visitors
familiar in deep religious fat tango
to the music of gematria
this is where it all fails.

Throw out the Lifeline Lay Out the Corse was collected poems 1965-85 and published in 1983 - yes! he is against factuality!.

Ian Hamilton Finlay, (1925-2006) began as a concrete poet but is now primarily identified with the design of gardens and the construction of objects embodying symbolic schemas. Advocate of a return to the idealistic purity of the early French Revolution as summed up in the figure of St Just. Was, around 1960, actively bringing ideas from the modern art world, in fact Brazilian concrete poetry, into Scotland, which seems to have provoked rage and hostility from virtually everyone involved in the arts in Scotland. Not much as a poet but his ‘avant garde pastoral’ has its virtues when encountered in three dimensions. As a ‘service refuser’ was in a battalion of Pioneers during the war, one officered supposedly by the critic Derek Stanford (see 'Inside the Forties'), who pays tribute to his ability to create mass confrontation and impasses even as a student. Maybe the trees and ditches of the Pioneers gave rise to the ‘avant garde pastoral’. Wikipedia says he joined the Army in 1942, but this contradicts Stanford’s memories and he was there. What is avant garde pastoral for? does anybody know?


Anna Adams poems in the 1984 anthology Purple and Green. born in 1926, began writing seriously in about 1965. came into prominence in the 1980s, as part of a great cultural change I suppose. married to the painter Norman Adams and began as a visual artist. There is a beautiful volume of his paintings with her poems ('Angels of Soho'). Books include An Intercepted Letter, Nobodies. Likes satirical poems also about the basis of identity and social role, like many other feminist poets I suppose.

With earth-grained hands
I root in mud
to separate incestuous sibling
parsnips for the pot.

Can these be poet's hands
scrubbing the corkscrew toes
[...]
but scullion-scars,

split finger-ends,
flour makeup, onion scent
disqualify.
[...]
Hands meet in mud
lost metacarpal beads,
dust fingertips that grope for words,
ash witnesses.

(from 'Poet with Scrubbing-brush')
The more you recognise it, the less you can argue with it.

Ted Hughes, (1930-1998) more gifted than anyone else when it comes to imaginative richness and confrontational intensity but more shocking than anyone else in his relentless insistence on violence and destruction. Having achieved a fundamental liberation of the imagination from documentary or social constraint, he covered a great range of emotions but also played the same tune too many times, to numbing effect. certainly a Jungian and part of a group which made a new access to myth and the unconscious possible during the 1960s. Collected Poems gathers many individual books.

Alastair Fowler (1930-) published two volumes (in 1978 and 1982) and then fell silent as a poet. Some of the poems in those books are remarkable. His unconventional research on astronomical symbolism in Spenser influenced Allen Fisher in the 'schema' for Place.

Roy Fisher (1930), represents the good conscience of the avant garde as opposed to the 'bad past' of indifference and incoherent protest. City (1960) is often taken as the start of the British Poetry Revival which dominated the territory for the next 30 years.It can be seen as the end of the 1950s.The Dow Low Drop is a very inclusive selected poems. Birmingham River (1994); His volume of Interviews through Time (2000) is a classic of poetic theory by someone who actually likes poetry.
Rosemary Tonks, (1932) produced two brilliant books in the 1960s. according to the folklore, had a religious conversion which led to her withdrawal from the poetry scene (there are rumours of a religious epic which the authorities failed to approve).

Geoffrey Hill (1932) debuted with a pamphlet in 1952, when he was already accepted by other students as someone with command of poetry. Wrote slowly (debut volume 1959) but with results which were accepted as classic. Having seemed almost archaic in the 1950s, profited from the new poetics with the 'montage' effects of Mercian Hymns. Seemed to hit a barrier in the 80s. His temperament changed by 1996, with Canaan, the first great volume of an incomparable series of great volumes: Speech! Speech!, Scenes from Comus, Orchards of Syon, The Triumph of Love, Without Title, A Treatise of Civil Power. Hill's revival has seemed like the revival of English poetry itself. He and Logue, poets of the 1950s, seemed to dominate the early 21st century.

Peter Redgrove (1932-2003) did a degree in Natural Science but has mainly been associated with the cultivation of the imagination on the principle of Jung's theory of symbols that release the unconscious and mythical. Wrote with extraordinary vividness and fertility. Limited perhaps only by too great a belief in individual psychology as opposed to the outside world and the social. Was one of the people who revived English poetry in the 1960s. Saw poetry as an independent cosmos rivalling the real one. Too many books to mention. Was psychoanalysed by JH Layard, whose 1944 book The Lady and the Hare expounds a theory of symbolism cohering at the unconscious level which is behind a large area of the modern aesthetic.

Harry Guest (1932-), enigmatic and advanced Welsh poet. Debut in 1968. Much of his best poetry is collected in Lost and Found: poems 1976-82; with the groups ‘Elegies’ and ‘Metamorphosis’ especially recommended.

Airs of summer wind their way through the empty chamber
for the skulls have gone to stare behind glass at a crude
map on the museum wall. Perhaps the bones
were removed piecemeal when the mound fell in. The sun is low
and slopes of tough grass fleeced with hazel
repeat the fragrance of the day. High stone slabs
freed from burial by five thousand years of rain
stand in the light and frost. You do not like these journeys.
(from 'Fifth Elegy')

George MacBeth, (1932-1992) was one of the most prolific poets of the period, along with Colin Simms and Peter Redgrove. Amazing superficiality and amazing energy went hand in hand in this classic BBC producer, insider, and 'fixer' of the scene. A few poems of high quality demonstrate his talent. He was attenuated by fantasy and unable to leave it. The revival of 'ludic' poetry circa 1983 thus appeared as ‘the era where everyone does their George MacBeth book’. He had done a book of poem-games already in 1965. I found a book by George called 'War Quartet' which includes four long narrative poems of the Second World War, 'surreal' according to the jacket. As modern narrative poems they virtually re-found the genre; unfortunately they are totally without interest, it looks as if he wrote them over a weekend. He was that kind of guy.

Outside the snow falls in a mindless blank
where the downward turn
is all the hand can feel. If she lifts

her face (the girl in the glass cage)
she is old
enough to be tasting
the dipped salt on her tongue. The forgotten sea

drips into the grained skin that is ready
for it. So many crystals
of grey light in the sugar-sifter of

steel sponges! The nose hurts, it is
pressurized by the freezing-point
of anonymous water. Come in, mercy, no

other name in the black roll of
the Norse winter
challenges the moment your head rests in.

(from 'The World of the Oboe')


David Wevill (1935-), the son of Canadian diplomats, spent much of his early life either in Japan or in England, where his early work around 1960 was clearly leading in the revival of the whole scene at that time. Birth of a Shark (1963) and A Christ of the Ice-floes (1966) could be taken as 'existentialist authenticity' in the manner of the time, but yet broke free of the prevailing poetic norms.

This sea has many coasts,
And every inch and brown pool
Is a fingerprint. The gannets come
Plunging, wreck their sight; the sea-salt keeps
The crab-flesh it corrodes; and the grape-
Avenging Dog Star locks
These fiery lives to the pillows we drown on.

Firebreak, 1971 and Where the Arrow Falls (1973) show a radical departure into myth, inspired by non-European anthropology, comparable perhaps to work by Lowenstein and Thom. Departures is a 2003 Selected Poems. He has lived for many years in Austin, Texas, where there is a poetry translation unit.

Christopher Salvesen (1935), author of a few compelling poems about Scottish history. published two books presented as the history of a parish in Nithsdale. (Floodsheaf; Among the Goths).

Gwyn Thomas (1936). A Welsh-language poet of great importance. I can't explain why I like his work so much, but clearly it has to do with his personality, a combination of moral authority, belief in radical causes, and openness to new ideas. Thomas is just more credible than other poets. He began with poems about the slate quarrying community in north Wales and took advantage of the new simplicity of the 1960s. Recently he was National Poet of Wales. To achieve this popularity while rejecting the old-style rigid verse form was something almost impossible to bring off. An early critic said 'Only rarely do we find the first person in his poetry: 'we' and 'our' predominate' (John Gwilym Jones, in the introduction to Chwerwder yn y Ffynhonnau, 1962). Both the Welsh-language community and the old working-class community have been on the way out for much of his life; perhaps Thomas' strength is that he embodies the strength of those communities in his work as an individual, while being a modern person. He embodies the virtues, specifically the ones I admire.
(Thomas does not appear in my 7-volume work ‘Affluence and Fine Words’ and is the only omission I would admit as Crippling rather than merely Stupid.)


J.H. Prynne (1936)
Prynne is, by common consent, both the most important and the most difficult poet of our era. We can loosely divide his creation into three periods: the early stage as a Movement poet, ending about 1963; the phase of clear and philosophical poetry summed up in The White Stones (1969); and the late stage where the language is a breakthrough, or a move into the cryptic, for reasons which are a matter of debate. An entire sector of English poetry can be described in terms of which period of Prynne it is imitating. Prynne identified difficulty with virtue, and with a critical understanding of life in a society where doping and deception are a major industry; this much was already accepted by the English Literature academic world of the 1950s. Like other work emerging from the 1950s, his is ‘a cold bath for the romantic’. While not a domestic poet in the usual sense, Prynne was preoccupied, in the White Stones period, with the mystery of daily life, ‘the structures of everyday life’ as in Henri Lefebvre’s book, and with experiences like shopping and walking through a town centre. It seems that Prynne and Fisher are the only poets who have really incorporated scientific insights into the structure of their poetry, as opposed to anecdotes or postcard images: “These are both obscure poets. There is no point denying this. Also, their works - the Collected Poems, Place, Gravity, Entanglement, Leans, Defamiliarisation - are so large in extent and so complicated in design that they are almost intimidating. This emotional colour was not there in 1980 but has stolen over the scene as a late effect. At the same time, the quality of newness which the poetry possessed at the outset, and still in say 1975, must have shifted as decades roll by: its originality has not diminished but the puzzles which surround it are old puzzles. Of course a community of readers has grown up around both poets, even if the salaried critics do not have a clue what is going on. The perspective shift between regarding them as scrolled up into a tiny space of precision and nuance and seeing them as of monumental scale and magnitude shimmers around them, so that they shimmer rather than staying in clear sight. Because of the complexity involved it is arguable that these two poets together make up most of the informational complexity of modern British poetry.” (AD). Prynne was professionally a ‘knowledge worker’, keeping up with very wide fields of knowledge in order to make purchase decisions for a college library. The preoccupation with the newest thing all the time may come from this need to keep up, or from an existentialist belief that the area of the immediate and the unknown is where consciousness and authenticity are to be found. It seems very likely that Prynne’s late work is spontaneous in nature, written from a borderland where the brain is most alert and least able to rely on secure knowledge assets. The language includes elaborately wrought philosophical argument but also radical montage and a kind of primitivism, a ‘year zero’ of knowledge and lexical structures.
There is a whole book on the experience of reading Prynne (edited by Ian Brinton). The Collected Poems is a desirable object, but contains almost too much; it is easier to reach close understanding of the work in much smaller sections.

John Riley, (1937-78) associated with the Grosseteste/ Ferry school and was one of a group of students in Cambridge interested in Objectivism even in the late 1950s. a convert to the Orthodox Church whose poetry is anti-rational, preoccupied with Byzantium, free of logic. Edited with Tim Longville the Grosseteste Review, perhaps the most influential of all post-war magazines. The Collected Works came out in 1980.


John Powell Ward (1937) main work is From Alphabet to Logos, a set of concrete poems published as a loose-leaf folder in 1973. These are wonderful creations, making the transcendental visible, the pulse of ideas never slowing down. Ward has since published books in a more discursive style, still inventive and free. Matthew Jarvis has drawn attention to a group of Welsh visual poets at around this time; a fragile genre I suppose, and populated by avant garde hacks. Achievements like this should not be lost to memory. Ward is technically an Englishman who lived in Wales for a long time.
Another set of visual poems, perhaps equally important, exists only as a portable exhibition.

Ken Smith (1938-2003) working-class poet from Yorkshire admired for his integrity and humanity. leading figure of the radical simplification of the 1960s, the total parataxis, which was either anti-bourgeois or pro-American. interested in figures on the margins and loss of socialisation, such as the animal metaphor hero in 'Fox Running'. Best work is in 'Fox Running' and 'Tristan Crazy'. Late work did not add to his reputation, as is often the case for the anti-literary writer. There is a volume The Poet Reclining: Poems 1962-80.

R.F. Langley (1938-2011) a friend of Prynne’s when both were students, and one of the poets of that generation who accepted modern poetry rather than nostalgia. A cultured man who had a creative late blossoming from 1990 on. Collected Poems (2000) contains precisely 17 poems, but each one is singular, philosophically open, pristine. More or Less (2002). The Face of it (2007) contains 22 new poems. Was one of the more important poets writing in the last 20 years.
interview in 'DSMT'

We slow out and curve
then the deep lawlike
structures loom and bob
through. We sway up, shut
down and open, coolly, each
small hour. Quiet. Then
quieter still. When thin
rims of rose and powder-blue
start slightly and a marble
runs down a chute.
(from ‘The Ecstasy Inventories’)


Colin Simms (1939-) has worked throughout his life as a naturalist, meaning being out of doors most of the time. Influenced both by Olson and by Bunting. His poems are typically instant grips of something that flashed and disappeared, sometimes painstakingly assembled into larger patterns clasping some part of a greater but elusive organism. In the 70s he wrote a group of long poems about the biogeography and Native Americans in the north-west USA, collected as The American Poems (2005); also Otters and Martens (2004), Gyrfalcon Poems (2007), In Afghanistan (1994), For Basil Bunting. Eyes Own Ideas came out in 1987. The scope of his work was not visible until shearsman's publication programme made it so.

glacial-melt-water valley little into filled land so that it was forgotten by the farmer
a sinuous scar healed over by the machines except its corn grew darker in the shallow
it brought them up from the south, hirundines black arrows skimming the little clouds of midge
even if they were going east to west, here they turned north and the birds of prey already knew it
where it grades to the river there the spread of the bright green was, and the marsh-marigold yellow
in the willowgarth's annual growth so fresh green it bewildered like its birdsong the willow-warblers
leading up to something on the water cyclical yeasty bubbles showed the first sulphur-yellow wagtails
and up to something the draw led, under the skylarks, sparrowhawks had always been, in this
like so many birds of prey in two sizes.
before they had left the land egg-collecting boys knew that, but their continuity was broken
(from 'Spring: arrival' from the Gos Lives cycle)

John James (1939), from Cardiff. a great poet of sociability, affability, the vanishing moment. Essentially an oral poet; related to Apollinaire and O’Hara and like them interested in visual art and its ‘eternal present’. Collected Poems (2002). A new book (In Romsey Town) is out from Equipage.


Tom Raworth (1939), one of the major avant garde poets to emerge from the turmoil of the 1960s. This began with the dandyish poise and razor-sharp wit of sixties insouciance, wiring incompatible but pleasing things together. His collected poems revealed an oeuvre of immense ambition and dedicated purpose, perhaps like corroding away the self to reveal the operation of language and burning through a deceptive surface to reveal the deep structures of a class society, its organs of self-deception and self-reproduction. Collected Poems (2003).

*
Judith Kazantzis (1940-), records that she began writing poetry (after adolescent production, lost) in 1973 after reading The Colossus. ‘It was painting, psychoanalysis and feminism that set off my poetry in the 1970s[.]‘ She belongs to what now seems a heroic generation, facing at the start the complete opposition and disbelief of a society. She reached insights for the first time which poets have been re-finding ever since. Mine field (1977) is the first product of this, both about infantile states as the basis for a greedy political system and as innocence as always the start of a possible new arrangement of public affairs. In retrospect, this was a classic work, and in fact Kazantzis is one of the most significant feminist poets in Britain, outstanding for political maturity and for sounding natural, persuasive, and light. Selected Poems 1977-92 is a 'selected-collected'.

Peter Riley (1940). a participant de premiere heure in the English Intelligencer project and pupil of Prynne. Has resolved splits in the scene by becoming re-engulfed by the pastoral tradition. Likes to write about long walks, too long for some people's legs. Can be seen as an outlet for Prynnean methods in conservative and weatherproof dressing.


Isobel Thrilling, Christian poet writing lyric poetry of cohesion and sensitivity. The Ultrasonics of Snow; Spectrum Shift; The Chemistry of Angels; The Language Creatures (2007).

Pauline Stainer (1941-) began with Christian mysticism and developed this line through a range of miraculous imagery from other religions, science, and folklore; the impossibilism makes for poetic shock and awe. Books include The Honeycomb (1989); Sighting the Slave-Ship (1992); The Ice-Pilot Speaks (1994); The Wound-dresser’s Dream (1996); The Lady and the Hare (2003) is a selected poems. Crossing the Snowline (2008)

I
No such thing
as routine death -
in ultima Thule
the shaman stretches
the throat of a walrus
over his drum
It is Ascension week;
the men wear black crêpe veils
against blindness,
the ship's astronomer
is given four ounces
of raven
Sterna paradisaea
is caught with ordinary cotton,
a number of snowy owls
are shot,
one thawing its prey
against its breast:
O terra incognita
the tundra is silk-crewel work;
polar bears sweat
through upturned paws,
the ship's figurehead
warm as though from the furnace
the sagas redden -
(from the amazing long poem, 'The Ice-Pilot Speaks')

DM Black (1941-), Scottish poet, brought up in east Africa. Began publishing circa 1965. Has published little (a few Goethe translations) since the 1980s. A Collected Poems 1964-87 came out from Canongate. Trained as a psychoanalyst. Mainly known for extraordinary narrative poems based on Jung, mythology, and science fiction. These are unlike anything else. see http://www.pinko.org/30.html

Barnett, Anthony, (1941-) Writes in a 'phenomenological' way about the mystery of being. One's rating of him depends on whether one values this 'cosmic incomprehension' as profound or as blank and disoriented. Was included in the anthology A Various Art. Has also been active in the free jazz scene as a percussionist. A three-volume retrospective set included a book of interviews which puts his view of things. The Resting Bell, collected poems, 1987. Miscanthus (2005) was a new and selected poems.

White
of the Northern bird -
What white?
White ice,
crystals,
 
besides, the
black lake, blue-gray lake,
Because of the water-dark,
May sun.
Speech-like,
beside
bleak prayers of ice
breaks, before morning;
the morning
where your voice is transmitted
is silenced.
('Drops', from Blood Flow)

Tom Lowenstein (1941-) was definitely at a peak in the 1980s (Filibustering in Samsara, 1987). Part of this work has been re-issued as Ancestors and Species. New & selected Ethnographic Poetry (2005). the most intellectual of all Jungian poets and one of the most intellectual of any poets. Notable for having a professional knowledge of anthropology as well as a scholarly knowledge of Pali and the Buddhist scriptures. Has translated Eskimo poetry related to his fieldwork in Alaska, but his reflections on what it means to be human are more valuable.

In the middle distance, then, the last routines of purely local reminiscence
with horizons uncorrupted and uncluttered:
but now on the skyline
there came cross-hatched structures, masted and then also funneled,
the scaffolding a-bristle, sketched in complicated silhouette
as though each rig were bird bone and sinew dried and lifted,
or disjointed from the meat part
in some planally disorganised arrangement,
a great wing flexing erect its exo-skeleton, and then as the ships closed, they saw marvellous
hypertrophies of skinboat and fantastication,
alive, alone, aloof and curiously peopled,
heavy with stuff indefinably desirable,
but then abruptly gone in atmospheric summer shimmer
('At Jabbertown, 1890')

John Hartley Williams (1942), taught first in Yugoslavia and then at the Free University of Berlin, where he lives. Is securely identified with English postmodernism and with the new 'ludic' poetry of the 1980s, but had already nailed this style in Hidden Identities (1982), which among other things can be defined as the best volume of English Pop poetry (which mutated into postmodernism, it would seem). An incomparable sequence of books followed: Bright River Yonder (1987); Cornerless People (1990); Double (1994); Canada (1997); Spending Time with Walter (2001); Blues (2004). Tumultuous, formally free, inventive; terms like 'magic realism' and 'folk surrealism' have been applied. Was influenced by Rosemary Tonks. The Ship (2007) is a re-issue of published and unpublished poems from the 1970s. Ignoble Sentiments (1995) gathers early poems and a memoir of his life up till 1970 or so.

When we opened the door
the corpse of cigarettes, wild music & brandy fell out.

We reeled back, put our heads down
& went in. 'Bean soup', said Steve.
We breathed pure garlic farts
& smoke from the charcoal grill.

They brought it in a tureen
full of gypsy gold teeth, smiling up at us.
The beans were hopping
to the pizzicato rhythms of a mad orchestra,

to a melody that danced them
deep into the soulful thighs of the ham,
a spice barrel full of paprika, which went
ba-boom! when we dunked kettledrums of bread in it.

We slurped the fiercest bits. It was
the choicest liquid ever tasted, & it had chosen us.
our ears pricked to jagged kolo music,
the wheel dance, so many little feet this way & that

like beans you can't get on yr spoon, so fast they jiggle,
that way & this. 'How many bean languages can you eat?'
asked Steve. 'Serbian? Hungarian? Danubian?'
The white wine sank a shaft of bliss into our smoky heads

(from Bean Soup)



Gwynne Williams (1942) Rhwng gewyn ac asgwrn (1969) was an extraordinary book, building on the ‘experimental cynghanedd’ of Euros Bowen to produce something light, musical, enchanting. Williams did not follow-up energetically, although he produced one other volume which consists of adaptations from other languages, an arrangement which allows the originality of his versification to emerge clearly.

David Barnett (1942-), Jungian poet who has lived in Wales for many years. Writes with a virtuosically quick flurry of monosyllables, describing myths and rituals of integration. Fretwork. All the Year Round. see http://pinko.org/13.html for a review. New books are expected in 2011.

Peter Abbs (1942), Has had a long career but the poetry in For Man and Islands (1978) and Songs of a New Taliesin (1979) was what struck me. See my discussion in The Long 1950s. Abbs trained to be a Catholic priest at one time and has had a parallel career attacking modern art for its lack of spiritual richness and optimism. I always find these essays convincing, but then when it comes to it the art doesn't quite do what the essays say it is going to. 'essays on the present breakdown of culture' and so forth.

Tonight, as we lie in bed, a battered moon drifts
Through the sky - it seeks a glistening eye,
It seeks a low-tide pool, a mountain lake,
In which to dip its wounded face,
Its scarred distended cheeks, its frozen mouth.
Who will return its former life? its lost being?
Its ancestral bearings? Who will lend the slack night
The great curved mirrors of his mind
To house this nomad face? We turn away.
(from 'Estranged' in For Men and Islands)
 
John Hall, (1942-) member of the early Cambridge school and participated in The English Intelligencer. Included in the anthology A Various Art. Couch Grass, Meaning Insomnia. seemed to stop publishing at some point in the 1970s. Has come back with visually oriented work more recently. There is a selected poems, Else Here (1999) but much of his work is unavailable. Days only came out in a magazine at the time (1973) but is largely in Else Here. Interview in DSMT.

& on the bright face is
all fair? how does the light
shine back from the desert spaces of
the sands & the gleaming ice-caps? I sense the green
darkness of the latitudes of my origin
as I move about now
in the clarity of these northern cities & call it
my fortune to be talking of origins
in the grasslands of my own life
which may have been the grasslands also
of this species
(from 'Lustre' from Between the Cities)

David Harsent (1942-), began as an associate of The New Review, and was a product of the 60s, operating on the borders of the tolerable in sexuality, brutality, delusion, the irrational. His early work is summed up in an important Selected Poems (1989). Mister Punch (1984) was a classic which took the polarisation introduced by radical feminism and brilliantly exploited it. It was also a rewrite of Crow. The Punch theme probably came from Harrison Birtwhistle, who had previously commissioned a Punch work from another librettist. His acceptability to influential patrons in the world of opera and theatre has led to exciting commissions and unusual prominence but also to an inflation of style. It was followed by News from the Front (1993) and A Bird's Idea of Flight (1998). A natural miniaturist, his efforts to write book-length projects (since Mister Punch) have gone badly (Marriage, in 2002, Legion, in 2005). He drew on the 'hare' imagery of the psychoanalyst JH Layard. He remains a gifted poet.

As he bent back to trawl
the page, I heard a rustle like something
stirring a fall of leaves, and a worm
came out of his head, a thin
filament, breaking the skin
of the waxy crescent
just behind his ear, nosing the air
for the hint of burning
back along the stack.
'You have wasted your life.

(from The Archivist)

Andrew Crozier, (1943-2008) wrote poetry about the philosophy of daily life. Interested in visual art and frequently worked with visual artists. Influenced by Objectivism and by conceptual art. publisher of Ferry Press, a legendary outlet for the Cambridge School, also known as the Ferry/ Grosseteste School. Was associated with this group in the key mid-60s period, also founded The English Intelligencer. All Where Each Is was a collected poems. Interview in DSMT.

Iain Sinclair (1943). from Bridgend. Wanted to make B-movies but was forced into poetry by the tricks of fate. It is the one art-form that costs less than a B-movie. Wrote two works in the 70s, Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge, arguably not wholly 'poetry' but at the core of the Underground scene of the time. Like Edgar G Ulmer, his camera remains steady even when his characters disintegrate. Has mainly been a novelist and psychogeographer since 1987 but has also returned to poetry, a frequent relapse. Flesh eggs and scalp metals (1989) collected early poems (1970-87). The Firewall (2006) is a selected poems 1979-2006. There is a volume-length interview with Sinclair. His artistic ideas have been recycled by several hundred people by now. Including me, possibly.

Vicki Feaver (1943) from Nottingham. slow writing poet doing work of striking sensory intensity. concerned with the violence locked up in myth and fairy tale and the feminist message of Judith and Holofernes. The Handless Maiden (1994); The Book of Blood (2006).

Alexander Hutchison (1943), from Buchan in north-east Scotland. Deep-Tap Tree (1978); Epitaph for a Butcher; Carbon Atom (2006); Scales’ Dog (2007). virtuosic, laconic, and erudite poet using basically oral forms. occasionally writes in Buchan dialect. a remarkable speaker of his own work.
interview in DSMT.


Spike Hawkins (1943) published the lost fire brigade in 1969. One can speak of psychedelia, or of an English art school adaptation of Dada, but really this sounds like it comes from another universe. This was the best product of 'Pop poetry' in England, a genre which has been erased from history. A book followed in about 2004 which I saw but didn't have time to read.

Allen Fisher (1944) is a figurehead of the Underground and one of the poets one has to read in order to grasp what has happened over the past 40 years. He began with a kind of ‘year zero’ and built up from this resonant emptiness to work of encyclopaedic completeness. Fisher took Blake as a model, and because he identified Blake as involved in a ‘deviant physics’ he also began with a variant physics and cosmology. He spent much of the Sixties involved with conceptual art, notably in the fluxshoe art movement. Between 1971 and 1980 he composed the sequence 'Place' (complete edition 2005) and between about 1982 and 2005 he composed the sequence 'Gravity as a Consequence of Shape' (published in three volumes called Gravity, Entanglement, and Leans). The preset ‘cells’ are constructivist, creating ‘set-ups’ within which the poet can improvise and invert expected positions, fulfilling an original project of subversion. Although divided into two works, there is a continuous development over the span of ‘Place’ and ‘Gravity’, and the later parts of 'Place’ are very different from the early parts. Overall the mood changes from a highly emotional hippy or Situationist, demanding the rapid redesign of society, to an intellectual wandering through the apparently endless complexity of gene technology and particle physics. The use of characters, such as the Bellman, the Burglar, Watling, Doll, etc., starts with part V of ’Place’. The early parts, such as book I of Place, show a projection of feelings onto the earth seen as an organism with ‘vitality’ and ‘disorders’, the flow of currents of fresh water and heat affecting the emotions of the poet: very subjective and metaphorical. A more abstract approach evolves gradually. It is important not to forget a number of works outside the chief cycles, notably Defamiliarisation, a ‘pure’ conceptual work which is one of his most impressive. Blood Bone Brain may only be available on microfilm.

David Chaloner, (1944-2010) leading exponent of the 'eternal present' style of the 60s. a designer by profession, was influenced by visual art. Reproduced the surface of daily life with hallucinatory vividness and with a poignant sense of unexplored possibilities. A combination of sophistication and immediacy. Was included in A Various Art. Collected Poems (2005) was followed by Beyond These Lines (2007). Interview in DSMT.

The first phrase bereft of promise
sets indifferent channels at odds.
Phantom light supplies the dawn its several hues.
Patterns of emotion trade tragic consequences.
Brightly enclosed and variously constructed
national alarm whimpers a possible variant.
Ancient discontent and forgotten motive
transferred as senseless brooding.
The day enters to close sporadically across
the lettuce patch green in my mind's eye
colour of outrage waste and abuse; theoretically.
(from ‘Art for Others’)

Jeffrey Wainwright (1944), Heart's Desire (1978) was a classic debut. This seemed for a long time to be shaping up as the author's only book. Part of the interest is that it may have defined Carcanet's "secret project", defined by Schmidt as 'neo-conservatism of the Left'; Heart's Desire is very committed left-wing poetry which is also 'critical' and unaffected by the Pop sensibility. This may well be the touchstone by which we measure that 'secret project'. He returned to the fray with The Red-headed Pupil (1994), a set of arguments for secular materialism in a curiously 19th century framework.

Mimi Khalvati, (1944) is British but from an irani family. Has been a frequent teacher at The Poetry School. A sensitive and artistically ambitious writer who became prominent during the 1990s. In White Ink (1991); Selected Poems (2000); Entries on Light.
interview at http://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/scribe?showdoc=30;doctype=interview

The white rooms of the house we glimpsed through pine,
quince and pomegranate are derelict.
Calendars of saint-days still cling to plaster,
drawing-pinned. Velvet-weavers, hammam-keepers
have rolled their weekdays in the rags, the closing
craft-bag of centuries. And worker bees
on hillsides, hiding in ceramic jars,
no longer yield the gold of robbers' honey.
(from 'The Bowl')

John Robinson (1945), Yorkshire poet. The Cook's Wedding (2001) is a remarkable example of 'late Pop' work which has great charm and energy and never outstays its welcome. This is apparently his first book. The jacket says "he shovelled much of the concrete in the M62".
 
Paul Evans (1945-91) Welsh poet noted on the Underground in the late 60s and 70s. student of Eric Mottram. February, published by Fulcrum in 1971, summed up a whole era of breathy, low-effort, 'underground' serenity. He filled a key role overlapping 'Pop' poetry and the 'open field' world of Mottram. A selected poems, The Door of Taldir, came out in 2010. His late work is much less interesting.

I will be reborn
as a bird,
Plotinus says
because I love music
too much

maybe I’m
already one
eye winking
from a black disk
feathers
ruffled by the wind
I‘ve launched myself on

Peter Didsbury, (1946-) Didsbury lives in Hull and has published three books: The Butchers of Hull (1982), The Classical Farm (1987), and That Old-Time Religion (1994). The first two are brilliant. The basic method is of fixing reality before interpretative frames have classified and categorized it, isolating primary features, and recording these features in a serial way, so that the interpretative framework, invisible and eliminated, paradoxically stands out starkly as if read by infra-red light.

Peter Finch (1947), Can be seen as the equivalent in Wales of Morgan in Scotland: like him he has specialised in concrete poetry, sound poetry, and generative rules. Writes with astonishing energy, abiding at the tier of language before the personality, enjoying the boundless possibilities of the inchoate and the unbound. There is a Selected Poems (1987) but also a Selected later poems (2007). His books include Make, Food, Useful, Poems For Ghosts and Antibodies. The Welsh Poems appeared in 2006, and Zen Cymru was published in 2010.

In the foothills we discussed
the rights of passage with others.
The Americans said do said do you do
you do it. Our educated peers
outran us already tried our methods
and abandoned Eliot
didn't mean this. The bloody echo
of that chiming phrase. We were
outnumbered by stone throwers. We lay down.

Ages protect themselves with grease
in the paper-mills a bloom on the
whiteness which won't take ink they
own the forests they supply the bears
Kill them. For twenty-five years
in the streets we met with
malcontents, revolutionaries, sellers of tracts.
Peace is milk. War is acid.
But the centre always holds.
(from 'Shock of the New')

Michael Haslam, (1947) from Bolton. Romantic and mythographic poet rising to sublime heights. A Whole Bauble: Collected poems 1977-94 states the case. There followed The music laid her songs in language (2001), A sinner saved by grace (2005). Mid Life (2007) is a revised version of A Whole Bauble. Friends with most of the Cambridge School, took his early themes from the Prynnean interest in geography and myth, but is unfailingly impulsive and stricken by beauty where they are philosophical and critical. interview in DSMT.

The Figure I again stand here and sees
the river run uphill and disappear
into bush of blips of light
around a molten mountain sun —
a river budding
out at spindly wells, and mouthing
rushbed issues. I can imagine
what the figure must have felt to find
the one thing that they called the source
abstracted rose in an adulterated landfill.

(from 'The Music Laid Her Songs in Language')

Susan Wicks (1947-) Writes very short poems which achieves intensity through disorientation, like extreme close-ups which plunge you into the middle of an action. Dominated by sensuous detail and urgency. The Clever Daughter (1996)

She is the consummate dancer,
her grey silk shadow on marble
as her scorpion body arches
its fountain of piercing juices.
From the floor she can almost see it,
the grey-faced prophet's sneer
from the pit, the hungry trophy
hauled between them for centuries
across desert, crying its dead message.
(from 'Three Tales' in The Clever Daughter)

Penelope Shuttle, (1947-) author of poems in a 'magical realist', radically mythical style, based on Jung, folklore, and feminism. Arguably an early poet of the New Age movement. Can be seen as writing experiments in consciousness to help the feminist experiment in social arrangements. The Orchard Upstairs (1980); Selected poems 1980-1996 (1998).

Martin Thom, an anthropologist, stopped writing poetry and vanished from the poetic scene in about 1978; his work is contained in a book and two pamphlets (Ceremonial Devices and 19 songs). He is mainly remembered for The Bloodshed the Shaking House (1977), especially its startling first poem. His work, completely free of rational structures, has a dreamlike quality remarkably sustained:

Against the ore and elements
at dead heart of earth
hollowed out in wish, desire
there is a dark stream hieroglyphic
to carry your intention high
from death to some other blazing bed
on earth face, not mine
where black beads, black wood
by the sea rolled
shining, colour of liver
so rich in assimilated forms, the hermaphrodite
is all gift
shooting
you
into a wall of dream bees. To seek you out
wherever you are
is good.
frightening above fields
the work of creatures in
exchange, their impish glow
to things unknown It is freely given as ghost
pollen to lunar child
in tidal loops already marked
all starry, to be
come. Human in her pain & blood, a little
(...)
(from The Bloodshed, the Shaking House, 1977)
 
Grace Lake (1948-2010) from Stockport. led a stormy life. on the extreme end of 1968 radicalism, Situationism, King Mob, etc., stayed with the feeling of 1968. lived much in groups for whom the revolution was the main event, full-time and yet not really there. wrote in an irrational way in accordance with libertarian ideals. Her work is hard to interpret and much of it has not been published. Bernache nonnette (1995); Parasol 1 Parasol 2 Parasol Avenue ('96); Tondo aquatique (1997). A long poem, 'Sibyls', either does or does not exist. A project is under way at Birkbeck College to publish the rest of her work.


forlorn the lost, horse chestnut leaves across their mouths
mourn the nights that stop the portuguese
from changing flowers to musak
in other tongues our futures rung
the old uneconomic songs
proclaimed pandemic.
distinctively white shorelines await
the brave, the nonchalant, the hysteric,
servants retreat into a background
(for the) prophesies of April light
are noticed to be aiming
by slow and sure control
at correct definition
held fast as half strangled elegant cats
hanging a late grape on a battered straw hat,
and a cherry glistening, and a raspberry listening,
to the cream viyella collars of vietnamese sailors
flying their crafts to mexico
where snows melting around tangerines
drift to cool the edges of horse chestnut leaves
oblivious to the forlorn's lack of imperialese.

(from ‘dour’)

John Ash, (1948-) cannot be described without mentioning the New York School and the efficiency of his work has something to do with being a second generation. Unfailingly presents his peculiar character of wit, melancholy, and impressionability, which by now we could not bear to be without. The Burnt Pages; Selected Poems (1996); The Anatolikon/To the City (2002).
The assassinated emperor disembarks
under a dome of glass and metal --

Steam! Violins! Majolica roses!
Oiled moustaches! Braided uniforms! Saliva and kisses!

A glistening machine, all cogs and chains
and wheels (and wheels within wheels)
hauls him to the highest balcony
and the concert begins.
Poor Beethoven, poor Mozart
you are left far behind the primitive masters

your symphonies are vegetable patches or postcards
compared to these all-encompassing panoramas
swollen with tubes, bells, organs, anvils and gongs
and lasting for hours, lasting for whole evenings on end.

(from 'Without Being Evening')

Barry MacSweeney (1948-2000) began as a symbol of the new 'youth culture' with a 1966 book, suffered when the High Street publisher was not interested in his main work which was modernist and 'adult'. Joined the Cambridge School, became a friend of Prynne, was a star of the underground. Suffered with the collapse of the 'counter culture' and the rise of Thatcherism. Was overtaken by alcoholism. Returned to the scene around 1995 as part of trying to sober up, which gave him terrible insomnia and caused a rush of poetic productivity. May be the only important confessional poet from England. Wolf Tongue is a partial selected poems (1965-2000).


Ulli Freer (1948), represents the uncompromised spirit of 1968. an anarchist writing anti-rational and intuitive poems, with the lack of logical structures expressing beliefs about politics and emotional truth. had Jeff Nuttall as an English teacher at school, is associated with the London School founded by Nuttall and Cobbing.
Stepping Space (1991); Sand Poles (1993); Speakbright Leap Passwood (2003).


blue shallow breaks vermilion
where it crosses mountain ash
moon obstructed by rocks
biting ledges
and throws a marble passage
light ochre and soot
oil cloth wrenched from river
clogged the mouth
dread river dressed in a shroud
and the ice gets out
of pine and oak
their fete now great claws
night sounds
iron hearted thaw
(from Sand Poles)

Denise Riley (1948) idolised for combining emotional intensity with philosophical lucidity and socialist-feminist political commitment. Dry Air (1985) was published by Virago. has more or less withdrawn from the scene after Mop Mop Georgette (1993). associated with the Cambridge School; the poets who were students in 1968 were already different in attitudes from the poets active in 1965 and 1966. Things were changing incredibly fast in those days.

B. [Brian] Catling (1948-), from London. professor of sculpture. possibly began being interested in poetry as a student of Iain Sinclair's at film school circa 1972. Inhabits the same zone of Gothic horror as Sinclair's early and middle periods. Soundings (accounts of performance acts), The Stumbling Block, Its Index; Written Rooms and Pencilled Crimes was a retrospective. another selected poems is A Court of Miracles (2009). Late Harping. Last century works (2001) collects more installation scripts. Included in the anthology Conductors of Chaos.

I have broken the mirrors of all my manifestations.

Broken them in all of my homes. The frames hanging like wrenched jaws or snapped ribs under my feet.
Glass is treacherous, burnt sand grown sleek, refusing to run, absorbing the dark,
pretending not to be here, sly.

I am concealed in brightness, homing close to its insistence. This is where you will always find me, invisible, shining my voice around
your straining senses. Suckling on the thin metallic skin of reflection,
tarnished on the wet steps of my teeth.

I speak only to remember, to nail the fleeting grey voltage, leaching its colour to fix the wound, written deep in the head. I drink only from my own skull cup, rejecting the acrid inebriation of opinion.
(from 'The Leipzig Cyclops: First Tract')

Paul Brown (1949-)one of the poets active in the 70s Underground. began with the realm of the non-discursive or non-verbal, “visual poetry” to use that term. So right in the thick of the “pure” revolutionary thing, dissociated from the social order and open to planes of experience that haven’t been defined. Was doing this in the early 70s although I can’t be precise about his path. Moved to a more verbal style, still radical and influenced by surrealism and 'process', in books such as Masker and Meetings & Pursuits. Seems to have abandoned the scene since about 1986. A work 'Landscape with Materials', circa 1984, was published in 2012. Included in the anthology Floating Capital.

Almost at once the road
dipped - I lost sight

out of the wind the land
was so deep in
I took off my face and
shrugged my shoulders

something dropped onto me
and into this I fell
as softly as a hawk to
the hard soil of night

indistinct and savage
and infinitely sweet

(untitled, from 'Masker')
Despite appearances, these poems are not realist or autobiographical or naturalised. They are continuations of the purely visual and 'process' work and are about the experience of freedom. They retain their mystery.
 
Paul Gogarty, distinguished poet on the 70s Underground who is believed to have left the scene. Snap Box collects much of his work. The Accident Adventure (1979) is completely different, a mythological poem about the founding of the universe and society; it sums up the time, as it would be unthinkable at any other time. It came from X Press (which disappeared soon after) and is one of the A4 stapled/ mimeo'd productions which summed up a refusal to write those neat poems which followed the dress code, displayed linguistic status symbols, and made shy references to personal feelings. Yes, those were the days.
Works named 'Drum' and 'Why do toads eat so much' are untraced.

Philip Jenkins (1949) On the Beach with Eugene Boudin (1978); Cairo (1981). Jenkins was one of the Welsh avant-garde poets, a short but exciting list. He was missing from the scene for a while after Cairo, but has returned with a series of pamphlets, such as Baritone Compass (2010). Boudin produced a painting called 'Princess Metternich on the Beach'. Cairo is hard to describe:

In 1964, I dreamt that I was sewn into a carcass of meat hanging in a butcher's shop. Inside, I was conscious of colour moving slowly as a succession of projected slides from rich red through purples and browns into black.

In 1977 at the Vortex, Siouxsie and the Banshees performed a song in which the protagonist mutilates himself before impaling himself on a butcher's hook anticipating new skin.

In the Serapeum at Sakkarah in the third century before Christ, Asar Hapi, the Apis bull of Memphis into whom was sewn the dead Osiris,

Called the life of Osiris
Animated by the soul of Osiris.
(from Cairo, Book 1, 5)
This can be compared with 'The Accident Adventure'.

Gavin Selerie (1949-), a prolific and enigmatic writer who has had almost no critical reception. He has been part of the London avant garde scene for possibly 30 years without being accepted by the chief ideologues as forming a key part of that scene. His poetry is mainly in long forms organised around multiple interlocking themes and drawing on a vast range of research and achieving an extraordinary documentary density. I suppose it is an extension of 'open field' poetry. Azimuth (1984) was a 400 page work of multiple themes sorted around a 'key' of orientation, navigation, and the eternal feminine. (see http://www.pinko.org/22.html ) It showed the influence of Olson and of singer-songwriters. Roxy (1996, 130 pp.) again explores the eternal feminine, apparently the modern thing of theology; Le Fanu’s Ghost (2006, 320 pp.) is about the Le Fanu family, theatre and the history of horror. Days of 49 (1999, with Alan Halsey) is a re-remembering of 1949, the year of their birth, after half a century, a sort of avant-garde documentary. Music's Duel (2009) is a selected poems. Selerie has identified himself as a lover of digressions, someone who knows all the back streets of London. If we think of the antiquary as someone with an insatiable curiosity for the past, who can conjure up entire scenes from stray objects, we can define Selerie as an antiquary of the present. His intake of information is simply wider than that of most writers.


Mummy it as the Opening of the Mouth. To get back speech, sight and hearing. Two girls bend over a bundle of gold leaf wrappings. De Chirico haunts the square opposite. He's leaning into himself as the old master, when before it was What shall I love unless it's the Enigma? This parcel contains Zoser's butcher. Like his master he thinks he's with the Sun. Wrapped up in a crude arrangement of bandages. Or not so crude it it goes for seventy days. The professor in the fez would say Djoser. Three-stepped to a four stage and finally a six stage pyramid. John Soane's Garden Temple 1778. Emery's working in the sand. The French in parallel and without Napoleon after all... it would be one half of this dream of a dream. A third of the cabinetmaker's Egyptian designs are the library furnishings. George Smith: 1808. Just before the Hall in Piccadilly, demolished without the zeppelin or V2. If it wasn't glib I'd say tiredness equals war. Revival calls down enemies. It shan't live a memorial for every beggar's dust. Let all die and mix again. This is the fallout of Personal Landscape. Return to Oasis. On the word EXILE should be added a rather special limitation of meaning. Musing on the suicide—or was it—of Thomas Lovell Beddoes,
(from Days of '49)

Walter Perrie (1949), from the mining community in East Fife. One of few Scottish poets to take advantage of the new formal possibilities of the 1970s. The folklore has it that gay commitment did not suit the Scottish poetry establishment. His career seemed to come to an end. Recently he has emerged in the magazine Fras. Also a philosopher. Lamentation for the Children (1977); By Moon and Sun (1980).

Menna Elfyn pioneer of feminist poetry (and criticism) in Wales. writes in Welsh but English translations are easily available. writes personalised protest poetry in a style close to singer-songwriters. feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-war. edited two key anthologies of women poets in Welsh. Eucalyptus (1995) is her selected poems 1978-94 (this is a bilingual edition).

Brian Marley, (1950?) from Newcastle. active in the 70s Underground scene and one of its leading lights. left the scene, dramatically. This is said to be because of the lack of serious discussion of poetry. believed to be working in a jazz record shop, and writing reviews of saxophone records. His 1978 book Springtime in the Rockies has classic status and stands for the 'forgotten 70s', when amazing things could happen and be virtually ignored. He can be grouped with Martin Thom and Paul Gogarty in this sense.


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