Duncan's Underground

Andrew Duncan's Origins of the Underground: I've been reading it on the train from Manchester to London today. The book is must-have for anyone interested in British poetry from the 30s to the present, and counting. It's as if Lester Bangs, or Greil Marcus, those great rock and roll / punk critics, had been turned loose to consider, in freewheeling yet always informed, and brilliant fashion, poets like Terence Tiller, F.T. Prince, George Barker, and Lynette Roberts - yup, that's right, it's a completely personal, eccentric, yet researched foray into my favourite British period - the Forties.

This isn't a review or a full-blown commentary on the book - wait for my book on the 40s for that - but an appreciation of a book that's never less than controversial, impassioned, and often deeply useful, even when annoying. One of the things that Duncan really achieves is to push along the tired us/ them, avant-garde/ mainstream thing - and observe that the real issue should be poets driven by ideas, or intelligence, and those not. Duncan writes with such an engaged conviction that poetry is not obsolete, he breathes new life into it.


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