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Saturday, 13 September 2014

SUCK IT AND SEE

Interesting.  The British poetry blogosphere seems about as divided as Scotland currently.  I'd say it's about 48% Yes and 52% No to the Next Generation list.  Some poets, like Ben Wilkinson, are happily ransacking their career best reviews for prestigious journals, and featuring the listed great and good; Charlotte Runcie in the Daily Telegraph (online and beyond) is questioning the inclusion of famous stars like Daljit Nagra; and then it gets increasingly bitter. Perhaps too obviously, approval breaks down to collegiality - the more people know others on the list, professionally, the less likely they are to set fire to 20 bridges at once.  The excluded marginalised and genuinely cheated, feeling little to lose, are more vocally critical.  The teeny size of the UK scene makes it hard to get an objective response from so close up.  I've weighed in already.  See below.  But I think anyone who applauds the list entirely, and doesn't try to problematize it at all, is probably guilty of a bit of jingoism or curious joy, since there are clearly key figures - a few of genius - left off (James Byrne, Sandeep Parmar, Ahren Warner, Rachael Boast, Jon Stone, James Brookes, Sarah Jackson, Kathryn Simmonds, Sam Riviere, Zoe Brigley, Frances Leviston, etc) whose absence makes the presence of super stars in their late 40s or beyond, who don't need the list's boost, slightly discomfiting.  It seems the Next Gen title is misleading.  But as I said myself, 50% of those on the list deserve to be there, at least. How's that for fence sitting? Okay, here is something more frank: not all 20 on the current list are poetic geniuses. Some named above are.
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