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Saturday, 9 May 2009

Brinton On Prynne

Good news, Ian Brinton's book on the major British poet, J.H. Prynne, has been published by Shearsman, that important poetry press. I should add, my (mixed) review of the recent Shearsman book, Avia, by Nathaniel Tarn, is out in the latest Wolf.

Observers of the British scene - from afar - might be puzzled at the excitement in the media, this last week, surrounding Carol Ann Duffy - a formidable and intelligent poet to be sure - and the absence of any mention of Geoffrey Hill, or Prynne, as alternate potential laureates.

While they may not have been interested, these, and other significant British poets are of equal stature and seriousness, and the British media does the nation no favours with their simplistic equation of popularity/clarity and poetic quality. Blame Orwell. Orwell, the guru of the British journalist, was on guard against all complex and opaque language, suspecting what wasn't plainly spoken as being cant or worse.

However, what he argued on behalf of prose does not necessarily make sense for poetic utterance. The project of British late modernism is ongoing, is viable, and even exciting. Just don't expect to hear about it, much, on the BBC, even during their dedicated poetry weeks ahead. In Britain, it seems, the Establishment cannot bear too much variousness - which is reality.
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