Thursday, March 16, 2023

Paul Evans' Selected Poems and Lee Harwood's Collected

Writing a post about another book that I’m editing, I remarked on the difficulties of selection, and I made reference to the Selected Poems of Paul Evans that I edited in 2009: The Door of Taldir. What I realised for the first time was that I hadn’t mentioned this book on this blog at the time, only recently. The process of getting this book together (I don’t mean the selection) was somewhat fraught and I think I was happy to let the book appear and find its way – there were a few appreciative reviews, and there should have been more.

What do I want to say about it now? Well, I think anybody buying the New Collected Poems of Lee Harwood, which Kelvin Corcoran and I have just edited (see a hubpost here to a variety of posts on, and around, the book and its launch: Pages: Lee Harwood New Collected Poems (2023) Some of the new things we found to put in it (, or indeed buying the Selected Poems of Lee Harwood, might think of buying Paul’s book as well. Then, both men would have agreed, you have the ‘Brighton School of Poetry’ whole! That is a joke they shared – but, of course, they shared a lot more in their poetry. They refer to one another, though they never collaborated. More sadly, Lee writes a number of elegies to Paul, who died in a mountaineering accident, while climbing with Lee.

I’ve said a lot about Lee’s work on this blog (again, check out Pages: Lee Harwood: 4 Poems (and a note on them) in Abandoned Playground, ahead of NEW COLLECTED POEMS edited Corcoran and Sheppard (, but not a lot about Paul (although I did publish some pre-digital reviews of his excellent Tourneys book, and included him on my cassette tape magazine 1983). What I found myself writing (this morning, as it happens, but I am posting this comment (again) on a different, future, day) was: ‘This book, which I don’t mention on this blog until a post of March 2023, meant I had to balance the already-published poems (possibly the stronger ones, definitely the ones I liked most) with the poems in an unpublished manuscript in the possession of Lee Harwood. I knew that any poem from this manuscript that I didn’t pick – and these I liked less than the early free verse poems – would never see the light of day. It’s a position of some responsibility.’ Whereas the ethic of editing Lee’s New Collected was about getting everything in, the ethics of selection, which I’ve only hitherto had to think about in terms of my own work, which is easy (the work's mine and the decisions are mine!), was finely balanced in terms of Paul’s work. My simpler problems on my own account were discussed here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: How I selected History or Sleep: Selected Poems.

As an enticement for both books, I’d like to point to the online publication of their Introductions.

The Door at Taldir: The Selected Poems of Paul Evans, Exeter: Shearsman 2009, is still available: Shearsman Books buy Paul Evans - The Door of Taldir — Selected Poems.

That link shows you another link to my Introduction, or you can go straight there: paul-evans-the-door-of-taldir-selected-poems-SAMPLE.pdf (

 Lee Harwood, New Collected Poems. Bristol: Shearsman 2023, is available: Lee Harwood - New Collected Poems (

That link shows you another link to our Introduction, or you can go straight there: lee-harwood-new-collected-poems-sampler.pdf (

Any difficulties, go to and search.

The question of why Paul took up a traditional lyric style in later work after a deft non-metrical lyricism is another question, one which I’m not sure I can ‘answer’, though I could explore it. Was it a great swerve from the influence of Harwood, I wonder (with my Harold Bloom hat on)? I make good use of a 1982 interview I did with Paul in which he explains his stylistic changes in the Introduction you can access above. Andrew Duncan has a few thoughts about Evans (embedded in this long post): angel exhaust: british poetry revival.


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