Friday, August 18, 2023

Two online reviews of New Collected Poems by Lee Harwood: links and comments

There have been two online reviews of Lee Harwood's New Collected Poems that Kelvin Corcoran and I edited earlier this year. It’s a big book and, I suspect, it will take most reviewers a long time to complete even their initial readings.


Billy Mills, in his review of New Collected Poems – Lee Harwood (eds. Sheppard and Corcoran).  30th March 2023, was the first off the blocks (as Billy often is; I link to his blog on my blogroll to the right of this post, so you and I can keep pace with him). He tells us straight off:

'This new edition of Lee Harwood’s poems, edited by Kelvin Corcoran and Robert Sheppard, adds a not inconsiderable 200 pages to the 2004 collected edited by the poet himself. In part, this is due to the addition of the poet’s first collection, Title Illegible at the start and an additional 60-odd pages of post 2004 work. The remaining additions are poems excised by Harwood from the earlier book but here restored in their rightful chronological positions.'

In fact, there is one new section of work not collected in commercially-available book form. He notices how much of the book consists of work from the 1960s and he concentrates on this earlier work, while ‘my excuse’ – he does not need one – ‘is that there is a rare sense of consistent continuity about Harwood’s writing, with a kind of blueprint laid out in the work of the first 10 years which the later work builds on.’

Adam Piette, in his review of Lee Harwood New Collected Poems (and Mark Hyatt, with whom Lee's work has been associated before, in Geoffrey Thurley's forgotten critical book The Ironic Harvest) and Emma Bolland), published in Blackbox Manifold 30, - takes a look at the poetry of plain statement and, in a long and detailed essay (it’s more than a review) says, ‘The plainstyle discovered here on the surfaces of the world is closer to post-Romantic practice, and is grounded in a ego-less ‘we’-persona that is constructed as though in touch with the powers of ‘this earth’, and with the ghosts of the dead ‘surrounding us with a tenderness’. Adam is talking about ‘The Long Black Veil’, Harwood’s long plainstyle (cavalier rather than puritan, in Lee’s own terms) notebook poem, a text I keep coming back to. (See here: Pages: Robert Sheppard: HMS Little Fox by Lee Harwood republished (My reading of 'The Long Black Veil') for what is basically an excerpt from my book The Poetry of Saying, which Adam mentions.) Notably, there’s hardly a metaphor in Harwood's piece.

Thanks to both writers for their time and attention to this volume!

Here’s a hub post about our new edition:

Pages: Lee Harwood New Collected Poems: the best audio and video recordings (

You may order New Collected Poems from Shearsman here: Lee Harwood - New Collected Poems (

 My review of the earlier part of the ‘old’ Collected Harwood (2004), as it were,
and a review of the rest of the book,

are to be found at these links.

I will add other reviews here as and when. Or perhaps only the online ones, so you can link to them immediately.



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