Presentation on theme: "Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion (eds) The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (London: Penguin, 1982)"— Presentation transcript:
Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion (eds) The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (London: Penguin, 1982)
1 Who are the editors? What is their scholarly background like?
Morrison: Englishman; born in Yorkshire 1950; read English at Nottignham and London; poetry editor of the TLS, lit. editor of The Observer and the Independent; wrote a critical study on the Movement (1980); a selection of his poems appeared in Faber’s poetry series (London); professor of creative writing; lives in London.
Motion: was born in London, 1952; educated at Oxford; lecturer in English at Hull (Larkin’s place); editor of Poetry Review (London); published poetry; winner of poetry prizes; novels published by Penguin; lives in London; Poet Laureate after the death of Ted Hughes in 1998; published a major but controversial biography of Larkin (1993); edited Larkin’s letters.
2 How many poets are collected in the anthology? How many of them are men? How many of them are women? How many of them are English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish?
20 poets (19+1 editor) 5 women + 15 men Welsh: 0 Scottish: 1 (identified as ‘English’) Irish: 6 (3 emigrated, Mahon not even in BC contemporarywriters.com database) English: 15 (incl. Paulin) University degree: all, except 2 Cambridge / Oxford / Eton education: 7
3 Define ‘British’.
A state, not a country, not a nation. England as the dominant nation. Often: identified with England with bits on the fringes. Includes Northern Ireland but excludes Ireland. Dominant language is English. Multi-cultural and multilingual state. Yet: dominance of southern English white male middle-class poets. Question of identification for Scots and Irish. Many Northern Irish, though formally part of the UK, would not identify themselves as ‘British’. In NI and Sco.: ‘British’ carries the overtones of a dominant, oppressive cultural and political system.
4 In the Preface, which earlier anthology do they refer to? What do you know about this anthology?
A. Alvarez, The New Poetry (1962) The ‘gentility’ of the Movement: ‘Life is always more or less orderly, people always more or less polite, their emotions and habits more or less decent and more or less controllable, that God, in short, is more or less good’. ‘poetry needs a new seriousness’, i.e.: ‘the poet’s ability and willingness to face the full range of his experience with his full intelligence; not to take the easy exits of either conventional response or choking incoherence’.
5 In the first paragraph, the editors refer to a ‘shift of sensibility’. What is meant by that? What predecessors do they claim as their own in the next paragraph?
1960s and 1970s A ‘transition’ A ‘reformation of poetic taste’ Marsh, Pound, Roberts, Conquest, Alvarez
6 What roles do they attribute to the poets who emerged in the 1960 and 1970s in Northern Ireland? What relationship do they see between this new kind of poetry and that of Philip Larkin?
‘greater imaginative freedom’ ‘linguistic daring’ ‘a degree of lucid and literary self- consciousness reminiscent of the modernists’ ‘making the familiar strange again’ ‘have exchanged the received idea of the poet as the-person-next-door, or knowing insider, for the attitude of the anthropologist or alien invader or remembering exile
‘radical departure from the empirical mode’ of the Movement ‘open-ended, reluctant to point the moral’ ‘primacy of imagination’
7 How do they define the term ‘inner émigré’ and what do they mean when they say these new poets are ‘inner émigrés’? How do they characterize Heaney?
‘not inhabitants of their own lives so much as … observers’ ‘not victims but unlookers’ Not confessional poets but ‘dramatists and story-tellers’ >>> poetical definition Originally: geographical and political definition (Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany)
‘the most important new poet of the last fifteen years’ ‘delights in language’ Language embodies ‘politics, history and locality’ ‘strength and cunning’ a ‘prophet of contemporary violence’ (the Troubles)
8 What’s the ‘Northern Irish Renaissance’ and how is it related to Hobsbaum?
Belfast, 1960s Philip Hobsbaum ‘Movement virtes of common sense, craftmanship, explication’ Mahon, Muldoon, Longley, McGuckian The Troubles ‘a sense of ‘living in important places’, under pressure to ‘respond’ a ‘situation, [in which] you’re like a goalkeeper waiting for the world to fire balls at you, and you see things more urgently and clearly’ (Heaney)
9 As opposed to the Northern Irish poets, who do the editors claim as the saviors of English poetry? Are they technically right? When they say ‘English’, what do they mean?
Harrison: was born in Leeds, 1937; educated at Leeds University; has worked for the National Theatre in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Dunn: was born in Scotland, 1942; educated at Hull University (Larkin); spent 20 years in England, in 1981 moved back to Scotland
technically, right: English language. but: (in Dunn) Scottish sensibility Scottish English (language) also: a (deliberate?) confusion of language and nationality (in a multi-lingual context)
10 What are the characteristic features of Harrison and Dunn’s poetry?
Class consciousness ‘barbarian’ school infiltrating the system / establishment remaking poetic tradition double identity of the working-class poet linguistic games (=post-modern) in Harrison; ‘expansive fictionalizing’ (=narrative) in Dunn
11 What’s ‘Martian’ poetry and how is it claimed to be related to Metaphysical poetry?
Craig Raine, ‘A Martian Sends a Postcard Home’ ‘Outrageous simile’ ‘Viewing the commonplace with wonder and innocence’ ‘Heterogeneous ideas…yoked by violence together’
12 How do they characterize Fenton, Muldoon and Paulin?
‘drawing attention to the problem of perception’ long poems (‘Immram’), reference to Keats (Motion)
13 In the closing paragraph, which famous poet’s words are hinted at and what kind of similarity do the editors perceive among the poets collected in the anthology?
T.S. Eliot, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’: balance between continuity with the past and original contribution Here: departure rather than break with the past Individual talents but common purpose ‘to extend the imaginative franchise’ (left open by the editors for definition)
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