The publication of Larkin’s Collected Poems1 in 1988 showed that the poet, whose fame essentially rested on three slim volumes published between 1955 and 1974, had been much more productive than was commonly assumed. More particularly, it drew attention to the considerable body of work that Larkin produced in the 1940s. Since then, it has become clear that Larkin’s work should be discussed, not just in the context of the decades that followed the Second World War, but also in the context of what were undeniably crucial, formative years. Taking the early poetry into account makes it possible to go beyond the incomplete or misleading pictures that earlier assessments had produced: Larkin was not just the uneasy Laureate of the Welfare State, or a poet who found his voice by exchanging Yeats for Hardy. The poems written in the 1940s show that Larkin also responded to other historical developments and to other literary influences.
Larkin and the Politics of World War Two
Desire between Couple(t)s – a Counselling Intervention
I want, here, to focus on this originary motive for the poem, and to suggest ways in which it informs the poet’s larger purpose – to create a social poem which negotiates tensions within the age-old battle of the sexes. The finished masterpiece, I shall argue, has relevance not only to contemporary debates about the ideology of gender3 but, in particular, to the rise of our now-ubiquitous ‘counselling’ culture. For such a discussion it is important that the ‘Offence’ occurred within a tightly knit, ‘marginal’ group, and that the poetic strategy develops a phantasmagoric ‘interpretation’ of the incident, as a proto-Freudian6 narrative in which attentive intelligence has transformed the strength of Desire into mock-heroic sweet reason.
Matt Simpson, Philip Ramp, and Paul McLoughlin
The Rain and the Glass – 99 Poems, New and Selected by Robert Nye (London: Greenwich Exchange) 122pp. ISBN 1-871551-41-2 £9.95
The Theological Museum by Paul Stubbs (Hexham: Flambard Press) 80pp. ISBN 1-873226-70-5 £7.50
Everything Is Small From A Distance by Leonard J. Cirino (Springfield: Pygmy Forest Press, 2004) ISBN 0-944550-67-3 $14.00
Blues by John Hartley Williams (London: Cape, 2004), 80pp. ISBN 0-224073-44-3 £9.00
Peter Porter's Modest Proposals
I should begin with an apologia for my title. An interesting, entertaining and useful paper might be written about the satirical, Swiftian aspect of Peter Porter's poems. This isn't it. Nor am I concerned here with the imaginative and intellectual brilliance of so many Porter titles, though this too would make a fascinating subject. Rather my interest is in the idea of 'modesty' in relation to art and artists as it is articulated in Peter's work.
Aestheticising Place-Myth – A Mode of Containment? Well-In at Welwyn
The back cover of Glyn Maxwell’s first collection of poems, Tale of the Mayor’s Son (1990), has situated the writing in terms that subsequent reviewers have taken up: ‘Home is an English New Town, a Garden City, the strangest of ordinary places, providing a backdrop for much of Maxwell’s work as well as the images that govern it.’The ‘New Town’ is given specificity in ‘Garden City Quatrains’, from his third collection, Rest for the Wicked (1995), as Welwyn Garden
The Poet Malka Lee
In the centre of this article is a female poet rooted in a long tradition of Yiddish literature. Since these roots are essential for understanding her work, I will give a short introduction to Yiddish language and literature, followed by a biographical sketch of the life of Malka Lee. The aim of the research and the biography is to consider the thematically selected poems and interpret them as the poetic reflections of a woman of the twentieth century.
The Politics of Rape in Shakespeare's Lucrece
Peter J. Smith
Diana Fuss questions the "tendency to psychologize and to personalize questions of oppression, at the expense of strong materialist analyses of the structural bases of exploitation." While Shakespeare's poem acts in the opposite direction, it is a brave critic who will argue that their depersonalised readings of rape must be recognised to be more progressive or radical than those that focus on the victim. Rape is after all not a literary event, but a terrible reality with real-life casualties.
A Jewish Perspective
During the summer of 2006 I was in the West Bank. Israel was at war in Lebanon and making incursions into Gaza, and, whilst in Bethlehem and East Jerusalem, I was told that several Palestinians had been arrested as suspected suicide bombers. I travelled to Ramallah, stopping between checkpoints; I walked beside and in the shadow of the security wall, looked out from one hill that is Israel towards another that is Palestine and thought of this poem.
The Saying and the Said in the Linguistically Innovative Poetry of Tom Raworth
In 1989 Tom Raworth commented on the focus of his poetry: ‘At the back there is always the hope that there are other people … other minds, who will recognise something that they thought was to one side or not real. I hope that my poems will show them that it is real, that it does exist.’ This article will tease out the implications of this attitude, in terms of Raworth’s poems, but also in terms of a wider poetics of an alternative British poetry. Raworth was part of the growth of an experimental British poetry during the 1960s, and he joins company with Roy Fisher, Lee Harwood, Bob Cobbing and JH Prynne as an important figure in what Eric Mottram called The British Poetry Revival. Raworth’s early poems followed the dictum of Charles Olson’s projectivism that ‘ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION’, without reflection, qualification or discrimination, although Raworth’s effects were often comic and surreal. The presentation of sharp detail and rapid re-location of point of view created indeterminate lyrics and fictions. Throughout the decade improvisatory intuition was pitched against a supposedly reductive intellection.
Michael Murphy, David Belbin, Dennis Brown, David C. Green, and Matthew Steggle
The Iron-Blue Vault: Selected Poems by Attila József. Translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Frederick Turner (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1999), ISBN 1-85224-503-4 £8.95
Fallen among Scribes: Conversations with Novelists, Poets, Critics. David Gerard (Wilmslow: Elvet Press, 1998), ISBN 0951077686 £7.50
Breaking Enmities: Religion, Literature and Culture in Northern Ireland, 1967–97. Patrick Grant (London: Macmillan, 1999), ISBN 0-333-69829-0, Hardback £45
The Holocaust and the Text: Speaking the Unspeakable. Edited by A. Leak and G. Paizis (London: Macmillan, 2000), ISBN 0-333-73887-X, £15.99
Introduction to Renaissance English Comedy. Alexander Leggatt (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), ISBN 0-7190-4965-2, Paperback £9.99