The Incredible Shrinking Poet: Nicholas Moore

I am writing a chapter on Nicholas Moore.  There is very little online or in print about this most remarkable of poets - except for what Peter Riley and Mark Ford and a few others have to say.  Encyclopedia Britannica online has 150 words on him.  He was born November 16, 1918 in Cambridgeshire, and died in 1986, was a conscientious objector and 1940s poet.

He worked closely with the major British poetry editors Tambimuttu and John Goodland, was the earliest English champion of Wallace Stevens, was widely respected in American poetry circles in the 40s, and by the 50s was pretty much totally persona non grata.  As Peter Riley observed in his introduction to the poet in Picador's Conductors of Chaos (the Picador before Don Paterson's differing tenure) - itself a curiously rare bird now - the poetry establishment/marketplace proved itself useless in spotting or rehabilitating talent as early as the 1960s, when it singularly failed to notice or publish Nicholas Moore, despite countless attempts to be published; one recalls the older Welles, unable to get arrested in Los Angeles.

How has such a stylish, marvellous, humane, funny, playful, brilliant poet - one admired by John Ashbery among others - managed to stay out of the limelight for so long?  In the rush to promote new poets, we may be doing an injustice if we do not also publish and republish the un-new ones, that remain mostly dead to us.  It is often said that poets keep poets alive in the commonwealth of their mutual respect and admiration - mostly not the case - poets cannot keep fellow deceased poets in print, or write essays about them, or get them into anthologies, or online, or onto syllabi's, or onto exam questions, or on the radio - unless they actively do so.  Moore remains out of print and lost again - 20 years after Carcanet's last rescue mission, in 1990, with a Selected itself out of print - and selling for over £100 now!


Mairi said…
Spleen is available as a PDF at Do you know of any other sources for his work? There's a good essay on his work in "The Poetry of the Forties in Britain" by A Trevor Tolley- Page 110
It's available on Google books.
Who owns the rights, I wonder.
Steven Waling said…
Nicholas Moore is well-represented in the Poetry Library on the South Bank (I was there Friday & Saturday and photocopied bits from Recollection of the Gala) but yes, he does need reviving. There was a Bernard Bergonzi essay in PN Review a couple of years ago that looked at the Wallace Stevens influence.

But the '40's poets still seem to be personae non grata with a lot of contemporary poets. We need that decade back... Not just Moore, but Hamish Henderson, Brenda Chamberlain and a whole host more...
Giles said…
Interesting he went to the same school as Basil Bunting (a few years later)--physical ill-health did not help him in later years, he wrote a classic monograph on 'The Tall Bearded Iris'.
Alistair Noon said…
Add Seán Rafferty to that list, whose birth centenary was last year. Here's a link to the piece I did on him for Eyewear:

And here's a link to the eBook we put together to mark the centenary:
Jago said…
Help me:

I had the very bad idea to translate Spleen in italian...!

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