In 1999 I published my first work of ‘criticism’ and ‘poetics’ in a book that deliberately mixed reviews I had published on linguistically innovative writers and the ‘linguistically innovative’ poetics of my own writing, particularly the then-still advancing Twentieth Century Blues. In both cases this was a selection, leaving out, for example, an essay on David Miller that had appeared in a Stride volume already (for Far Language was published in the Stride Research series) and a series of overlapping pieces on Paul Evans that had appeared in several places (interestingly, parts of it turn up in the Introduction I wrote for the Selected Poems of Paul Evans, The Door at Taldir, that I edited a few years ago for Shearsman). I excluded the gloriously-indulgent reviews I produced for New Statesman which were rich in insult against the Movement Orthodoxy (some re-appeared in samidzat from Ship of Fools). It built up a picture of British Poetry of its time, and some of it found its re-written way into ThePoetry of Saying (or even beyond). When I moved to work at Edge Hill in 1996 and turned my back on literary reviewing in favour of literary criticism, I also left behind the concise, telegraphese of some of these pieces, particularly the ones I wrote for the paper version of Pages (precursor of this blog; see here): having few actual pages free I squeezed the criticism into as few as possible, and used every line – but in the process invented a style, I think. (See the pieces on Adrian Clarke, Ulli Freer, Maggie O’Sullivan and Bob Cobbing, for example, though the latter was for And).
I shall be reprinting one chapter a week, including links to these, until the book is re-published entire online. With an index amassing here as I go:
The (original) 'Introduction': here.
'Reading Prynne and Others': here.
'Far Language' (MacSweeney) here.
'Irregular Actions' (Allen Fisher) here.
'Timeless Identities' (Roy Fisher) here.
'Utopia Revisited' (John Ash) here.
'Flashlight Propositions' (Robert Sheppard's 1987 poetics) here.
'Education of Desire' (pedadgogic poetics) here.
'Commitment to Openness' (Roy Fisher, Lee Harwood, Tom Raworth) here.
'Poetic Sequencing and the New: Twentieth Century Blues' (poetics) here.
'Buoyant Readings' (J.H. Prynne, Bruce Andrews, Ken Edwards, Aaron Williamson and Gilbert Adair) here.
'Collosal Fragments' (Adrian Clarke) here.
'Tune Me Gold' (Maggie O'Sullivan here.
'Linking the Unlinkable' (poetics of Twentieth Century Blues) here.
'Adhesive Hymns' (Ulli Freer) here.
'Bob Cobbing: Soundings and Sightings' here.