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Saturday, 17 November 2007

Modern Is 'Im

Andrew Motion, England's Poet Laureate, is often thought of as something of an anti-modernist - one of those who spools out the nativist English Line movement (from Thomas Hardy, through Edward Thomas, then on via Larkin to the present) - well, maybe - but Motion's sympathies, and intelligence, are wider-ranging than that, and his poetry far more versatile and impressive than is sometimes accepted, especially by hip young next-next-generation types, who should read more, and pose less often.

Anyway, Motion would have been the last person one might have expected to write an enthusiastic review of a new life of Pound, but here it is, in today's Guardian Review. My review of the same book, Ezra Pound: Poet, Volume One, subtitled The Young Genius 1885-1920, will be out in Books in Canada in early 2008. I very much enjoyed Motion's review, but I am not sure he's correct in saying this is the first good study of the poet. I've read several others that, though arguably flawed in places, were worth reading.

Motion is very good at noting Pound's radical frustrations with the London scene (his rise was not triumphant or total) which I understand personally, since not much has changed in London's poetry circles since 1920, or rather, the changes that swept in with the spirit of '22, were mainly broomed out of Bloomsbury by the Possum himself before his death.
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