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Saturday, 12 June 2010

The New Establishment

In the 1970s, there was a moment when Hamilton, Larkin, Hughes and Heaney were all still alive and knew each other - and were, arguably, the poetic establishment of these isles.  A little later, Motion, Raine, Cope and Muldoon took that position (with Heaney still there of course).  However, a seismic shift has now taken place in 2009/2010, a real changing of the guard.

For it is now that a clear new triumvirate in British poetry has emerged and been confirmed as heads above the rest of us mere mortals, in terms of gongs and honours: Duffy, Paterson, and Armitage.  These are the poets that will be - for good or ill - anthologised in most future anthologies of this period - they are this period's "key" mainstream figures; there are others, of course, but that's not the point - in the race to become household names, "national treasures", these are the ones that secured the honour.  For, observe closely - first Duffy was made Poet Laureate, then Paterson was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal, and now, in her majesty's birthday honours, yesterday, Simon Armitage was made a CBE.

In terms of who represents the new "shadow" establishment, building on the work of Graham, Bunting, Prynne, Riley, Cobbing and Mitchell, there has yet to be consensus.  I'd - off the cuff - nominate Keston Sutherland, Andrea BradyZoe Skoulding,Chris McCabe and Giles Goodland.  Arise!
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