Anthologies of contemporary poetry may not tell you everything you need to know about the state of the art, but they are bound to tell you something. That is their purpose. I bought my first such anthology in 1956. It was called New Lines and its editor, Robert Conquest, argued in his brief introduction that the work of the nine poets he had chosen for inclusion could be seen to restore ‘a sound and fruitful attitude to poetry, of the principle that poetry is written by and for the whole man, intellect, emotions, senses and all.’And all what, we might wonder? We might also cavil at the phrase ‘the whole man’, especially as one of the contributors to the anthology was Elizabeth Jennings. Still, I do not want to score easy points against New Lines. I remain immensely grateful to Conquest for introducing me to work by poets I was ready to admire; and I was also excited by Conquest’s determination to press the case for a particular kind of poetry, which entailed arguing that some poets were better than others. Conquest championed his poets on the grounds that their work exhibited a ‘refusal to abandon a rational structure and comprehensible language, even when the verse is most highly charged with sensuous or emotional intent.’
The Metropolitan Voice
At the beginning of the 1960s, what might be called the Significance of Being a Gentleman was on three occasions drawn to my attention, all of them connected with the Department of English at Reading University. The first such occasion occurred on a warm afternoon in May 1961. There was to be a seminar on the novels of Walter Scott, led by an Oxford don who had agreed to read us a paper based on a forthcoming book of his. The don arrived, permitted himself an incurious stare at the twelve or so of us who were present, produced the typescript of his book, read from it for what seemed an eternity and then, as the shadows outside lengthened and his audience blinked awake, reluctantly agreed to answer questions. I made some mild objection to his ranking Kenilworth alongside The Charterhouse of Parma. Scott's novel was good, but it surely wasn't on a level with Stendhal's masterpiece? He raised a languid hand. 'The test of a gentleman', he said, 'is his ability to enjoy Scott.'
Fuel by Andrew Sant (North Fitzroy: Black Pepper, 2009), 122pp. ISBN 978-1-876044-63-3, £9.99
Wimmera by Homer Rieth (North Fitzroy: Black Pepper, 2009), 374pp. ISBN 978-1-876044-61-9, £15.95
Tremors: New and Selected Poems by Andrew Sant (Melbourne: Black Pepper Press, 2004) 258pp. ISBN 1-87604-4-500, £9.99.
Other Summers by Stephen Edgar (Melbourne: Black Pepper Press, 2006). 108pp. ISBN: 978-1-876044-54-1, $16.00.
Defying the Odds: Selective Poems by David Tipton (Sow’s Ear Press, 2006), 216 pp. ISBN-10: 0-95432-481-1, £9.99.
Scrying Stone by Steven O’Brien (London: Greenwich Exchange, 2010), 68pp, ISBN 978-1-906075-56-9, £7.99 (p/b).
The Flaming by Mamie Pomeroy (London: Greenwich Exchange, 2010), 72pp, ISBN 978-1-906075-43-9, £7.99 (p/b).
A Change of Season by Michael Cullup (London: Greenwich Exchange, 2010), 68pp, ISBN 978-1-906075-38-5, £9. 99 (p/b).
Notes for Lighting a Fire by Gerry Cambridge (Fife, Scotland: HappenStance Press 2012), 64 pp., hardback, ISBN 978-1-905939-71-8, £10.00.
John Greening and John Lucas
Wild Track by Mark Haworth-Booth (London: Trace Editions, 2005), 60 pp, ISBN 0-95509-450-X, £10.00
What is the Purpose of Your Visit? by Wanda Barford (Hexham: Flambard Press, 2005), 80 pp, ISBN 1-87322-679-9, £7.50
Under the Hammer by Robert Roberts (London: Pikestaff Press, 2006), 126 pp, ISBN 1-90097-432-0, £7.50
Fighting Talk by Cathy Grindrod, (London: Headland, 2005), 60 pp, ISBN 1-90209-692-4, £7.50
The Rain and The Glass by Robert Nye (London: Greenwich Exchange, 2004), 122 pp, ISBN 1-87155-141-2, £9.95
Highwire by Adrian Caesar (Canberra,Australia: Pandanus Books, 2007), 93 pp, ISBN 1-74076-178-2, £10.00
Catallus by Mario Petrucci (London: Perdika Press, 2006), 24pp, ISBN 1-90564-900-2, £4.50
Literature of the 1930s
Mary Joannou and John Lucas
This edition of Critical Survey is dedicated to papers first given at the ‘Literature of the 1930s: Visions and Revisions’ conference and includes radical new perspectives on woman novelists.