SHOPPING OPPORTUNITY (1959-97)
The present list began with an evening in the pub with Simon Smith and Harry Gilonis in around 1995. I think the point of making a list was to stomp on people who claimed that modern poetry does not exist in Britain and was just a fantasy of scatterbrained theorists. This is a version updated in 2010. The list has to be here as a showcase because, finally, all the argument is about these primary texts and all the evidence needed is in them. The start point is where Wolfgang Görtschacher places the start of a revival in British poetry, and allows us to include three important books. (Normally, poets who were established and highly reviewed in 1960 have been excluded.) The stopping point is where my research project stopped (to allow for the write-up). It's only fair to point out that Gilonis (especially) and Smith were horrified by my choices and wouldn't sign up to the final list. I think Harry wanted to include Bill Griffiths. You can make suggestions as comments on this website but please spare me egomania, bad taste, and general idiocy.
I have not listed pamphlets since they are too short and scratty; I can recommend just about all the Equipage pamphlets. Also, I have been selective in listing volumes by a single writer; also republication in the form of Collected Poems makes the list chronologically less satisfactory. (A lot of Allen Fisher poetry is collected in his 1992 book 'future exiles', and that is listed while the original issues are not. So they are not listed under the original year...) This was meant as an aid to shopping, and, vitally, Salt and Shearsman republished the bulk of the alternative poetry from this period, over 2005 to 2015 or so, so that today people are most likely to buy the books in the reprints from those two publishers, rather than elusive and short prints as they first appeared. While the reprints have monumental status, it is quite possible that brilliant poems are still stuck in the magazines of the time, because the poet never got around to completing a book's worth of them. There is really a lot of excellent poetry not on this list. It reflects the limits of my reading; I would be most interested to receive lists of additions.
Poets are listed in date of birth order. Trying to fit poetry into literal things like dates produces anomalies all the time. So, I have listed Peter Yates' selected poems, even though I doubt any of the poems are later than 1951. This is emotional - Yates' career came to an end, people forgot him and ignored his Selected, but I didn't want to substantiate that woe.
The earliest surviving version of this list had 65 poets and the current version has 150 poets. In a way this is satisfying, but you have to ask whether incompleteness is pervasive and there are still significant and pleasurable poets still not taken on board. I did extend the list up to 1997, but taking it further would involve an effort I am just not able to make. Poems left out of collected volumes are a special story. We now have 'Lusus', by George MacBeth - probably his most significant poem, but omitted from his Collected. Meanwhile, I omit his 1992 collected because the quantity of weak poems is just too large - so, I refuse to list it. He has been forgotten, I think. He came to read at my school in 1972 - I still remember that. Thank you, George!
(revisited 2020 and some dates adjusted)
I can see this is unsatisfactory as a record of concrete and visual poetry. The stress was on identifying books which the reader could buy; the Concrete form is not well captured by this. Something similar applies to words set to music, hardly the least important of poetic expressions. Of some interest also is poetry composed in this period but not published until later - quite a few books spring to mind, but they can be dealt with in another way.
1959 Christopher Logue, Songs; Peter Redgrove, The Collector; Geoffrey Hill, For the Unfallen
1960 Ian Hamilton Finlay, The dancers inherit the party;Ted Hughes, Lupercal
1961 Francis Berry, Morant Bay; Peter Redgrove, The nature of cold weather; Roy Fisher, City
1962 Christopher Middleton, torse 3
1963 Rosemary Tonks, Notes on cafés and bedrooms; Adrian Mitchell, Poems; Peter Redgrove, At the white monument
1964 David Wevill, Birth of a Shark
1965 Kathleen Raine, The Hollow Hill; George Barker, The True Confession of George Barker, parts 1 and 2; Christopher Middleton, nonsequences; John Holloway, Wood and Windfall
1966 Basil Bunting, Briggflatts; Francis Berry, Ghosts of Greenland; Peter Redgrove, The Force
1967 Rosemary Tonks, Iliad of Broken Sentences; David Wevill, A Christ of the Ice-Floes; Matthew Mead, Identities; John James, Mmm...ah yes; Ken Smith, The Pity; John Riley, Ancient and Modern; Andrew Crozier, Loved litter of time spent; Ted Hughes, Wodwo; Tom Raworth, the relation ship
1968 Alan Ross, Poems 1942-67; J.H. Prynne, Kitchen Poems; Edwin Morgan, The Second Life; Geoffrey Hill, King Log; Tom Raworth, the big green day; Barry MacSweeney, The boy from the green cabaret writes of his mother
1969 J.H. Prynne, The White Stones; Roy Fisher, Collected Poems 1968; George Mackay Brown, The Year of the Whale; David Jones, The Tribune's Visitation; Charles Tomlinson, Way of a World; D.M. Black, The Educators; Christopher Logue, New Numbers; John James, The Small Henderson Room; Christopher Middleton, Our Flowers and Nice Bones; Andrew Crozier, Walking on Grass; Spike Hawkins, the lost fire brigade
The classic anthology is Edward Lucie-Smith's British poetry since 1945, first published in 1970; later editions are of no value. Contemporary Scottish Verse 1959-69, ed. MacCaig and Scott; The Lilting House, ed. Stephens, Williams (Welsh); for the non-traditional poetry of the decade, John Matthias' anthology in TriQuarterly #21 (1971), Contemporary British Poetry, remains classic; A Group Anthology, edited Lucie-Smith and Philip Hobsbaum (1963). Love Love Love, edited Pete Roche (1967).
1970 W.S. Graham, Malcolm Mooney's Land; Emyr Humphreys, Ancestor Worship; Ted Hughes, Crow; John Riley, What Reason Was; Penguin Modern Poets 16 (with 30 pages each by Harry Guest, Jack Beeching, Matthew Mead)
1971 Norman MacCaig, Selected Poems; George Mackay Brown, Fishermen with Ploughs; Geoffrey Hill, Mercian Hymns; Roy Fisher, Matrix, The Cut Pages; J.H. Prynne, Brass; Paul Evans, February; Barry MacSweeney, Our Mutual Scarlet Boulevard
1972 Ken Smith, Work, Distances. Poems; George MacBeth, Lusus; Paul Gogarty, Snap Box
1973 Adrian Stokes, Selected Poems (in a Penguin Modern Poets); Anthony Thwaite, Inscriptions; Gerard Casey, South Wales Echo; Edwin Morgan, From Glasgow to Saturn, The Whittrick; Alan Riddell, Eclipse; Peter Redgrove and Penelope Shuttle, The Hermaphrodite Album; David Wevill, Where the Arrow Falls; JP Ward, From alphabet to logos; David Chaloner, Chocolate Sauce;
1974 David Jones, The Sleeping Lord; Anthony Thwaite, New Confessions; J.H. Prynne, Wound Response; Allen Fisher, Place (four volumes, 1974-81); Jeremy Hooker, Soliloquies of a Chalk Giant
1975 Glyn Jones, Selected poems; F.T.Prince, Drypoints of the Hasidim; Peter Redgrove, Sons of my Skin (selected poems 1954-74); John James, Striking the Pavilion of Zero; Anthony Barnett, Blood Flow; Allen Fisher, Long shout to kernewek; Iain Sinclair, Lud Heat; Ulli Freer, Rooms (1975-82; never collected in volume form);
1976 Flora Garry, Bennygoak and Other Poems; George Mackay Brown, Winterfold; Peter Levi, Collected poems 1955-75; Colin Simms, No Northwestern Passage; Anthony Barnett, Fear and Misadventure / Mud Settles; David Chaloner,
Today Backwards; B. Catling, Pleiades in Nine; Jeremy Reed, The Isthmus of Samuel Greenberg
1977 W.S.Graham, Implements in Their Places; Edwin Morgan, The New Divan; Ted Hughes, Gaudete; Judith Kazantzis, minefield; Martin Thom, The Bloodshed the Shaking House
1978 Geoffrey Hill, Tenebrae; Ted Hughes, Cave Birds; Roy Fisher, The thing about Joe Sullivan; Peter Abbs, For Man and Islands; Andrew Crozier, High Zero; Alexander Hutchison, Deep Tap Tree; Jeffrey Wainwright, Heart's Desire; Barry MacSweeney, Black Torch, (part 1), Odes; Paul Brown, Meetings and Pursuits; John Ash, Casino; Tony Lopez, The English Disease; Change; Philip Jenkins, On the Beach with Eugene Boudin; Brian Marley, Springtime in the Rockies
1979 W.S.Graham, Collected Poems 1942-77; Ted Hughes, Remains of Elmet, Moortown; Iain Sinclair, Suicide Bridge; Paul Evans, The Manual for the Perfect Organization of Tourneys; Paul Gogarty, The Accident Adventure; Jeremy Reed, Saints and Psychotics
1980 Anthony Thwaite, Victorian Voices; Harry Guest, Elegies; Ken Smith, Fox Running; Penelope Shuttle, The Orchard Upstairs;Jeremy Reed, Bleecker Street
1981 David Jones (d.1974), The Roman Quarry; Adrian Stokes (d.1972) With All The Views; Christopher Logue, Ode to the Dodo (poems 1953-78), War Music; Peter Redgrove, The Apple Broadcast; David Chaloner, Hotel Zingo; Nicki Jackowska, The House that Manda Built; Philip Jenkins, Cairo
1982 J.H. Prynne, Poems (i.e. collected poems); Ken Smith, The Poet Reclining (selected poems 1962-80); Peter Didsbury, The Butchers of Hull; John Hartley Williams, Hidden Identities; John Ash, The Goodbyes; Paul Brown, Masker;
1983 Roland Mathias, Burning Brambles: selected poems 1944-79; Peter Yates, Petal and Thorn (selected poems); George Mackay Brown, Voyages; Asa Benveniste, Lay Out the Life Line, Roll out the Corse (poems 1965-85); Ted Hughes, River; Harry Guest, Lost and Found: poems 1975-82; John James, Berlin Return; B. Catling, The Tulpa Index; Philip Pacey, In the Elements Free
1984 Anthony Thwaite, Poems 1953-83; David Harsent, Mister Punch; John Ash, The Branching Stairs; Gavin Selerie, Azimuth; John Seed, History Labour Night; Frank Kuppner, A bad day for the Sung Dynasty
1985 Andrew Crozier, All Where Each Is (Collected Poems); Allen Fisher, Brixton Fractals, Unpolished Mirrors (detached part of Place); Barry MacSweeney, Ranter; Denise Riley, Dry Air; Maggie O'Sullivan, A Natural History in 3 incomplete parts; Kelvin Corcoran, Robin Hood in the Dark Ages
1986 Christopher Middleton, Two Horse Wagon Going By; Roy Fisher, A Furnace; Michael Haslam, Continual Song; Maggie O'Sullivan, Divisions of Labour, From the Handbook of That & Furriery; ; John Wilkinson, Proud Flesh; Kelvin Corcoran, The Red and Yellow Book
1987 Alastair Mackie, Ingaitherins; Colin Simms, Eyes Own Ideas; Peter Finch, Selected Poems; Tom Lowenstein, Filibustering in Samsara; Peter Didsbury, The classical farm; John Ash, Disbelief; Frank Kuppner, The Intelligent Contemplation of Naked Women; Maggie O'Sullivan, States of Emergency;
1988 Edwin Morgan, Themes on a Variation; Tom Raworth, Tottering State (selected poems 1963-87); Maggie O'Sullivan, Unofficial Word; Kelvin Corcoran, Qiryat Sepher
1989 George Mackay Brown, Wreck of the Archangel; Christopher Middleton, Selected Writings; Ted Hughes, Wolfwatching; Peter Levi, Shadow and Bone; Iain Sinclair, Flesh Eggs and Scalp Metal; David Chaloner, Trans; Allen Fisher, Stepping Out; Frank Kuppner, Ridiculous! Absurd! Disgusting!; Kelvin Corcoran, TCL
Anthologies include: Purple and Green (anthology, no editor, Rivelin Grapheme, 1985, 33 women poets); Angels of Fire, ed. Paskin, Silver, Ramsay (1986). A Various Art, ed. Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville (1987; this is effectively the Grosseteste Review Sampler; most of it was written before 1980); The New British Poetry (Paladin anthology, 1988, includes a good sample of the alternative scene); Four Fife Poets: Fower Brigs ti a Kinrik (1988).
1990 Edwin Morgan, Collected Poems 1949-87; Alexander Hutchison, The Mooncalf; Peter Finch, Make; B. Catling, The stumbling block, its index; Sheenagh Pugh, Selected Poems; Robert Sheppard, Daylight Robbery; Robert Crawford and W.N. Herbert, Sharawaggi; Hilary Llewellyn-Williams, The Book of Shadows
1991 John James, Dreaming Flesh; D.M. Black, Collected poems 1964-87; Isobel Thrilling, Spectrum Shift; Tim Fletcher, Firesong (n.d.), Derivatives; Ulli Freer, Stepping Space; B. Catling, Soundings (accounts of performance acts); John Ash, The Burnt Pages; Mimi Khalvati, In White Ink; Ian Duhig, The Bradford Count; W.N. Herbert, Dundee Doldrums; Nicholas Johnson, Listening to the Stones
1992 future exiles (selected poems by Allen Fisher and B. Catling); Tom Raworth, Catacoustics; Wendy Mulford, The Bay of Naples; David Barnett, Fretwork; Pauline Stainer, Sighting the Slave-Ship; John Seed, Interior in the open air; Jo Shapcott, Phrase Book; David Greenslade, Burning Down the Dosbarth; Robert Crawford, Talkies; Andrew Lawson, Human Capital
1993 F.T. Prince, Collected Poems; Tom Rawling, Names of the Sea-trout; Tom Raworth, Eternal Sections; David Chaloner, The Edge; David Harsent, News From the Front; Ulli Freer, Sand Poles; the tempers of hazard (for Barry MacSweeney, Selected Poems); Denise Riley, Mop mop georgette; Maggie O'Sullivan, In the House of the Shaman; Graham Hartill, Ruan Ji's Island and Tu Fu in the Cities; Moniza Alvi, The Country at My Shoulder; Jamie McKendrick, Kiosk on the Brink; Robert Sheppard, Flashlight Sonata; Kelvin Corcoran, Lyric Lyric; Caroline Bergvall, Strange passage
1994 Charles Madge, Of Love, Time, and Places: Selected Poems; Roy Fisher, Birmingham River; R.F. Langley, Twelve Poems; Colin Simms, In Afghanistan, For Basil Bunting; Pauline Stainer, The Ice-pilot Speaks; Allen Fisher, Scram, Dispossession and Cure, Civic Crime, Breadboard; Nigel Wheale, Phrasing the Light; Tony Lopez, Stress Management; Vicki Feaver, The Handless Maiden; Michael Ayres, Poems 1987-92; W.N. Herbert, Forked Tongue; David Dabydeen, Turner; Deryn Rees-Jones, The Memory Tray
1995 Alan Ross, After Pusan; Elizabeth Bartlett, Two Women Dancing; James Berry, Hot Earth Cold Earth; David Barnett, All the Year Round; Judith Kazantzis, Selected Poems 1977-92; Michael Haslam, A Whole Bauble; Grace Lake, Bernache nonnette; B. Catling, The Blindings; Chris Bendon, Jewry; Robert Hampson, Seaport; Ian Duhig, The Mersey Goldfish; Alison Brackenbury, 1829; Niall Quinn, Nick Macias, and Nic Laight, However Introduced to the Soles; Tim Atkins, Folklore 1-25
1996 George Mackay Brown, Following a Lark; Christopher Middleton, intimate chronicles; Christopher Logue, Selected Poems; Roy Fisher, The Dow Low Drop: new and selected poems; Geoffrey Hill, Canaan; John James, Schlegel eats a bagel; Grace Lake, Parasol 1 Parasol 2 Parasol Avenue; Gavin Selerie, Roxy; Tony Lopez, False Memory; Rod Mengham, Unsung: New and Selected Poems; Kelvin Corcoran, Melanie's Book; Robert Crawford, Masculinity; W.N.Herbert, Cabaret McGonagall; David Greenslade, Creosote; Vittoria Vaughan, The Mummery Preserver; Andy Brown, The Sleep Switch
1997 Tom Raworth, Clean and Well-Lit, Selected Poems 1987-95; Barry MacSweeney, The Book of Demons; Grace Lake, Tondo aquatique; Peter Finch, Antibodies; Useful; Alison Fell, Dreams Like Heretics: new and selected poems; Alexander Hutchison, Epitaph for a Butcher; Frank Kuppner, Second Best Poems from Chinese History; Kevin Nolan, Alar; John Hartley Williams, Canada; Mimi Khalvati, Entries on Light; Rob MacKenzie, Off Ardglas; Karlien van den Beukel, Pitch Lake; Helen Macdonald, Safety Catch; David Rees, The London; Ian Taylor, Ruins
Anthologies include Floating Capital: 15 London Poets, ed. Robert Sheppard and Adrian Clarke (1991); The New Makars, ed. Tom Hubbard (1991) is a convenient overview of some little-known poetry in Scots; Dream State: The New Scottish Poets, ed. Donnie O'Rourke (1993); Ten British Poets, ed. Paul Green (1993); Contraflow on the Superhighway, an Informationist Primer, edited Herbert and Price (1995); Conductors of Chaos, edited Iain Sinclair (1996); Welsh issue of Modern Poetry in Translation, ed. Dafydd Johnson; A State of Independence, ed. Tony Frazer (1997); Out of Everywhere, women poets, edited Maggie O'Sullivan (1997)