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Encyclopedia > British poetry revival

The British Poetry Revival is the general name given to a loose poetic movement in Britain that took place in the 1960s and 1970s. The Revival was a modernist-inspired reaction to the Movement's more conservative approach to British poetry. The outrageously crowded Woodstock festival epitomized the popular antiwar movement of the 60s. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... Mountebanks ... The Movement was a term coined by J. D. Scott, literary editor of the Spectator, in 1954 to describe a group of writers including Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Donald Alfred Davie, D.J. Enright, John Wain, Elizabeth Jennings and Robert Conquest. ...

Contents


Beginnings

If the Movement poets looked to Thomas Hardy as a poetic model, the poets associated with the British Poetry Revival were more likely to look to modernist models, including the British poets David Jones, Basil Bunting and Hugh MacDiarmid. Although these poets had effectively been written out of official histories of 20th century British poetry, by the beginning of the 1960s a number of younger poets were starting to explore poetic possibilities that the older writers had opened up. Thomas Hardy For other people called Thomas Hardy, see Thomas Hardy (disambiguation) Thomas Hardy, OM (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was a novelist, short story writer, and poet of the naturalist movement, who delineated characters struggling against their passions and circumstances. ... David Jones (November 1, 1895-1974) was both an artist and one of the most important first generation British modernist poets. ... Basil Cheesman Bunting (March 3, 1900 – 1985) was a British modernist poet. ... Hugh MacDiarmid was the pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve (August 11, 1892, Langholm - September 9, 1978), perhaps the most important Scottish poet of the 20th century. ...


These poets included Roy Fisher, Gael Turnbull, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Bob Cobbing, Jeff Nuttall, Tom Raworth, Michael Horovitz, Eric Mottram, Peter Finch , Edwin Morgan, Jim Burns, Lee Harwood and Christopher Logue. Many of these poets joined Allen Ginsberg and an audience of 7,000 people at the Albert Hall Poetry Incarnation on June 11, 1965 to create what was, effectively, the first British happening. Roy Fisher (born 1930) is a British poet and jazz pianist. ... Gael Turnbull (1928 - July 2, 2004) was a Scottish poet who was an important precursor of the British Poetry Revival. ... Ian Hamilton Finlay, Star. ... Bob Cobbing (July 30, 1920 - September 29, 2002) was a British sound, visual, concrete and performance poet who was a central figure in the British Poetry Revival. ... Jeff Nuttall (July 8, 1933 - January 4, 2004) was an English poet, publisher, actor, painter, sculptor, jazz trumpeter, anarchist sympathiser and social commentator who was a key part of the British 1960s counter-culture. ... Tom Raworth (Thomas Moore Raworth) (born 1938) is a London-born poet and visual artist who has published over 40 books of poetry and prose since 1966. ... Eric Mottram (1924 - January 16, 1995) was a teacher, critic, editor and poet who was one of the central figures in the British Poetry Revival. ... Peter Finch is a Welsh poet and author. ... Edwin Morgan (born April 27, 1920) is a Scottish poet and translator who is associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... Lee Harwood (born 1939) is a poet associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... Christopher Logue (born Portsmouth, 1926) is an English poet associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... Allen Ginsberg (left) with his lifelong companion, poet Peter Orlovsky. ... June 11 is the 162nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (163rd in leap years), with 203 days remaining. ... 1965 (MCMLXV) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1965 calendar). ... A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered as art. ...


These poets provided a wide range of modes and models of how modernism could be integrated into British poetry. Fisher, also a professional jazz pianist, applied the lessons of William Carlos Williams' Paterson to his native Birmingham in his long poem City. Turnbull, who spent some time in the U. S., was also influenced by Williams. His fellow Scots Morgan and Finlay both worked with found, sound and visual poetry. Mottram, Nuttall, Horovitz and Burns were all close to the Beat generation writers. Mottram and Raworth were also influenced by the Black Mountain poets while Raworth and Harwood shared an interest in the poets of the New York School. William Carlos Williams Dr. William Carlos Williams (sometimes known as WCW) (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963), was an American poet closely associated with Modernism and Imagism. ... Paterson is a poem by influential modern American poet William Carlos Williams. ... The city from above Centenary Square. ... Scottish literature is literature written in Scotland or by Scottish writers. ... Found poetry is the rearrangement of words or phrases taken randomly from other sources (example: clipped newspaper headlines, bits of advertising copy, handwritten cards wertwrwerwergreat, can stretch a cord, however fine, into a horizontal line that shall be absolutely straight. ... Sound poetry is a form of literary or musical composition in which the phonetic aspects of human speech are foregrounded at the expense of more conventional semantic and syntactic values; verse without words. By definition, sound poetry is intended primarily for performance. ... Concrete poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on. ... The term Beat Generation refers primarily to a group of American writers of the 1950s. ... The Black Mountain poets, sometimes called the Projectivist poets, were a group of mid 20th century American avant-garde or postmodern poets centered around Black Mountain College. ... The New York School was an informal group of American poets and painters active in 1950s New York City. ...


A number of publishing outlets for this new experimental poetry also began to spring up, including Turnbull's Migrant Press, Raworth's Matrix Press and Goliard Press, Horovitz's New Departures, Stuart Montgomery's Fulcrum Press, Tim Longville's Grosseteste Review, Shearsman, Galloping Dog Press and its Poetry Information magazine, Pig Press, Andrew Crozier and Peter Riley's The English Intelligencer, Crozier's Ferry Press, and Cobbing's Writers Forum. In addition to the poets of the revival, many of these presses and magazines also published avant-garde American and European poetry. The first anthology to present a wide-ranging selection of the new movement was Horovitz's Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain (1969). Fulcrum Press was founded by Stuart Montgomery in the mid 1960s with the intention of publishing good quality editions of contemporary poetry in the modernist tradition. ... Andrew Crozier (born 1943) is a poet associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... The English Intelligencer was a literary magazine/newsletter founded and edited by the poets Andrew Crozier and Peter Riley. ... Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain, an anthology of poetry, was edited by Michael Horovitz and published by Penguin Books in 1969. ... 1969 (MCMLXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1969 calendar). ...


London

Thanks in no small part to Writers Forum and its associated writers' workshop, London was a hub for many young poets, including Bill Griffiths, Allen Fisher, Iain Sinclair, Gilbert Adair, Peter Finch, Ulli Freer, Elaine Randell, Maggie O'Sullivan and Denise Riley. London is the capital city of England and of the United Kingdom, and is the most populous city in the European Union. ... Bill Griffiths (born 1948) is a poet and Anglo-Saxon scholar associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... Allen Fisher (born 1944) is a poet, painter, publisher, teacher and performer associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... For the Australian politician, see Ian Sinclair Iain Sinclair is a British writer and film maker. ... Gilbert Adair (born December 29, 1944) is an author, film critic, and journalist who won the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for his book A Void which is a translation of the French book La Disparition by Georges Perec. ... Peter Finch is a Welsh poet and author. ... Maggie OSullivan (born 1951) is a British poet, performer and visual artist associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... Denise Riley (born 1948 in Carlisle, England) is a professor of literature, a feminist theorist, and a poet. ...


Griffiths writes a poetry of dazzling surface and deep political commitment that incorporates such matter as his professional knowledge of Anglo-Saxon and his years as a Hell's Angel. Both Sinclair and Fisher share a taste for William Blake and an interest in exploring the meaning of place, particularly London, which can be seen in Sinclair's Suicide Bridge and Lud Heat and Fisher's Place sequence of books. O'Sullivan explores a view of the poet as shaman in her work, while Randell and Riley were among the first British women poets to marry feminist concerns with experimental poetic practice. The Anglo-Saxons refers collectively to the groups of Germanic tribes who achieved dominance in southern Britain from the mid-5th century, forming the basis for the modern English nation. ... Hells Angels logo (Smithsonian Institution) The Hells Angels (without an apostrophe), were formed in 1948 in Fontana, California (where the local chapter remains active), taking the name of the movie Hells Angels based on the Royal Flying Corps directed by Howard Hughes. ... William Blake (1807) William Blake (November 28, 1757–August 12, 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. ... . ... Feminism is a social theory and political movement primarily informed and motivated by the experience of women. ...


Griffiths started Pirate Press to publish work by himself and others. Allen Fisher set up Spanner for similar reasons, and Sinclair's early books were published by his own Albion Village Press. Many of these writers participated enthusiastically in performance poetry events, both individually or in groups like Cobbing's Bird Yak and Konkrete Canticle. Eric Mottram was a central figure on the London scene, both for his personal and professional knowledge of the Beat generation writers and his abilities as a promoter and poet. The term Beat Generation refers primarily to a group of American writers of the 1950s. ...


Northumbria

By the early 1950s, Basil Bunting had returned to live in Newcastle and, in 1966, Fulcrum Press published Briggflatts, which is widely considered to be his masterpiece. A number of younger poets began to gather around Bunting. In 1963, Connie and Tom Pickard started a reading series and bookshop in the Morden Tower Book Room. The first reading was by Bunting, and Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso all read there. They were soon joined by Richard Caddel, brought up in Kent but an honorary Northumbrian, Barry MacSweeney and Colin Simms. Section from Shepherds map of the British Isles about 802 AD showing the kingdom of Northumbria Northumbria is primarily the name of a petty kingdom of Angles which was formed in Great Britain at the beginning of the 7th century, and of the much smaller earldom which succeeded the... This article is about a city in the United Kingdom. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... Briggflatts is a long poem by Basil Bunting. ... 1963 (MCMLXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (the link is to a full 1963 calendar). ... Tom Pickard (born 1946) is a poet, radio and film maker who was an important initiator of the movement known as the British Poetry Revival. ... Robert Creeley (May 21, 1926 - March 30, 2005) was an American poet, author of more than sixty books, and usually associated with the Black Mountain poets, though his verse aesthetic diverged from that schools. ... Lawrence Ferlinghetti Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born March 24, 1919) is a poet who is best known as the co-owner of the City Lights Bookstore and publishing house, which published early literary works of the Beat Generation, including Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. ... Gregory Corso (illustration) Gregory Nunzio Corso (March 26, 1930 – January 17, 2001) was an American poet, the fourth member of the canon of Beat Generation writers (with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs). ... Richard Caddel (July 13, 1949-April 1, 2003) was a poet, publisher and editor who was a key figure in the British Poetry Revival. ... Kent is a county in England, south-east of London. ... Barry MacSweeney (July 17, 1948 - May 18, 2000) was an English poet and journalist. ...


Through Bunting, these younger writers became familiar with the work of the Objectivist poets. Specifically, Louis Zukofsky and Lorine Niedecker were to become important models for Caddel and Simms in their writing about the Northumbrian environment. Pickard and MacSweeney shared Bunting's interest in reviving Northumbrian vowel patterns and verbal music in poetry and all of these poets were influenced by the older poet's insistence on poetry as sounded speech rather than purely written text. William Carlos Williams, who was the only poet to be published as both an Objectivist and an Imagist The Objectivist poets were a loose-knit group of second-generation Modernists who emerged in the 1930s. ... The cover of the 1978 edition of Zukofskys long poem A. Louis Zukofsky (January 23, 1904 - May 12, 1978) was one of the most important second-generation American modernist poets. ... Lorine Niedecker (May 12, 1903 - December 31, 1970) was born on the Black Hawk Island near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. ...


At Easter, 1967 MacSweeney organised the Sparty Lea Poetry Festival. This was a ten-day session of reading, writing and discussion (and no little drinking). The participants, including the Pickards, MacSweeney, Andrew Crozier, John James, John Temple, Pete Armstrong, Tim Longville, Peter Riley, John Hall, J. H. Prynne and Nick Waite, stayed in a group of four cottages in the village of Sparty Lea. This was to be a pivotal event in the British Poetry Revival, bringing together poets who were separated geographically and in terms of poetic influences and encouraging them to support and publish each other's work. This article is about the Christian festival. ... 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar (the link is to a full 1967 calendar). ... J. H. Prynne (born 1936) is a British poet closely associated with the British Poetry Revival. ...


Cambridge

MacSweeney felt close to the Cambridge poets. These were a group centred around J. H. Prynne and included Andrew Crozier, John James, Douglas Oliver, Veronica Forrest-Thomson, Peter Riley, Tim Longville and John Riley. Prynne was influenced by Charles Olson and Crozier was partly responsible for Carl Rakosi's return to poetry in the 1960s. The New York school were also an important influence for many of the Cambridge poets. The Grosseteste Review, which published these poets, was originally thought of as a kind of magazine of British Objectivism. Map of the Cambridgeshire area (1904) The city of Cambridge is an old English university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire. ... John Riley (1937-1978) was a poet who was associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... Charles Olson (27 December 1910 – 10 January 1970) was an important 2nd generation American modernist poet who was a crucial link between earlier figures like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the New American poets, a rubric which includes the New York School, the Black Mountain School, the Beat... Carl Rakosi (November 6, 1903 – June 24, 2004) was the last surviving member of the Objectivist poets. ...


The Cambridge poets in general wrote in a cooler, more measured style than many of their London or Northumbrian peers and many of them taught at Cambridge University. The University of Cambridge (often called Cambridge University, or just Cambridge), located in Cambridge, England, is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world. ...


Elsewhere

In the 60s and early 70s Peter Finch ran the No Walls Poetry readings and the ground breaking inclusive magazine, second aeon. Finch was an associate of Bob Cobbing and acted as a Welsh outpost for the poetry revival. He began Oriel Books in Cardiff in 1974 and the shop served as a focal point for young Welsh poets. However, some of the more experimental poets in Wales were not of Welsh origins. Two of the most important expatriate poets operating in Wales were John Freeman and Chris Torrance. Freeman is another British poet influenced by the Objectivists, and he has written on both George Oppen and Niedecker. Torrance has expressed his debt to David Jones. His ongoing Magic Door sequence is widely regarded as one of the major long poems to come out of the Revival. Cardiff (Welsh: ) is the largest city in Wales and the countrys capital. ... The term Welsh literature may be used to refer to any literature originating from Wales or by Welsh writers. ... John Freeman may be one of several people: John Freeman (Georgian poet) was a British poet who lived from 1880 to 1929 John Freeman (politician) was a British Labour Party politician John Freeman (modernist poet) is a British poet and critic John Freeman (VC) was a recipient of the Victoria... Chris Torrance (born 1941) is a poet and musician associated with the British Poetry Revival. ... George Oppen (April 24, 1908 - July 7, 1984) was an American poet, best known as one of the founders of the Objectivist group of poets. ...


Although published by Writers Forum and Pirate Press, Geraldine Monk is very much a poet of the North of England. Like Maggie O'Sullivan, she writes for performance as much as for the page and there is an undercurrent of feminist concerns in her work. Maggie OSullivan (born 1951) is a British poet, performer and visual artist associated with the British Poetry Revival. ...


A treacherous assault on British poetry

In 1971, a large number of the poets associated with the British Poetry Revival joined the Poetry Society and elected a council to represent them. The society had been traditionally hostile to modernist poetry, but under the new council this position was reversed. Eric Mottram was made editor of the society's magazine Poetry Review. Over the next six years, he edited twenty issues that featured most, if not all, of the key Revival poets and carried reviews of books and magazines from the wide range of small presses that had sprung up to publish them. 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ... Established in 1909, the London-based Poetry Society is a membership organisation open to all. ...


Nuttall and MacSweeney both served as chairperson of the society during this period and Bob Cobbing used the photocopying facilities in the basement of the society's building to produce Writers Forum books. Around this time, Cobbing, Finch and others established the Association of Little Presses (ALP) to promote and support small press publishers and organise book fares at which they could sell their productions. The Association of Little Presses (ALP) was an organisation dedicated to promoting small press publishing activity in Britain and Ireland. ...


In the late 1970s, in response to the number of foreign poets being featured in Poetry Review, the Poetry Society dissolved the editorial board of the magazine, describing their activities as "a treacherous assault on British poetry".


The 1980s and after

A number of younger poets, many of whom who first found an outlet in Poetry Review under Mottram, began to emerge around the end of the 1970s. In London, Robert Shepherd, Wendy Mulford and Ken Edwards were among those who were to the fore. These, and others, met regularly at Gilbert Adair's Subvoicive reading series. Edwards ran Reality Studios, a magazine that helped introduce the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets to a British readership and ran Reality Street editions with Mulford. The London based Angel Exhaust magazine brought many of the younger poets together. In the Midlands, Tony Baker's Figs magazine focused more on the Objectivist and Bunting inspired poetry of the Northumbrian school while introducing a number of new poets. The Language poets (or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets, after the magazine that bears that name) are an avant garde group or tendency in United States poetry that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s; its central figures are all actively writing, teaching, and performing... Angel Exhaust 16 Angel Exhaust is a British poetry magazine founded by Steve Pereira and Adrian Clarke. ...


In 1988 an anthology called The New British Poetry was published. It featured a section on the Revival poets edited by Mottram and another on the younger poets edited by Edwards. In 1987, Crozier and Longville published their anthology A Various Art, which focused mainly on the Cambridge poets, and Iain Sinclair edited yet another anthology of Revival-related work Conductors of Chaos (1996). 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The New British Poetry was a poetry anthology from 1988, jointly edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred DAguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram, respectively concerned with feminist, Afro-Caribbean, younger and British poetry revival poets. ... 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Conductors of Chaos: A Poetry Anthology is a poetry anthology edited by Iain Sinclair, and published in 1996 by Picador. ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ...


This last featured another aspect of the Revival; the recovery of neglected British modernists of the generation after Bunting. Poets like David Gascoyne, W. S. Graham and Nicholas Moore have been reappraised and returned to their rightful place in the history of 20th century British poetry. Another interesting development was the establishment of the British and Irish poetry discussion list by Richard Caddel. This continues to provide a forum for discussion and the exchange of news on experimental British poetry. Caddel, together with Peter Quartermain edited the most recent anthology to cover the field, Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 (1999). The cover of Gascoynes 1935 book A Short Survey of Surrealism David Gascoyne (October 10, 1916 - November 25, 2001) was a British poet associated with the Surrealist movement. ... W. S. Graham (November 19, 1918 - January 9, 1986) was a Scottish poet who is often associated with Dylan Thomas and the neo-romantic group of poets. ... Nicholas Moore (16 November 1918 – 1986) was an English poet, associated with the New Apocalyptics in the 1940s, who later dropped out of the literary world. ... 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ...


External links

  • List of related links
  • The English Intelligencer Archive
  • The Morden Tower
  • Archives of the British and Irish poetry discussion list

 
 

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