This impressive Companion is an extensive guide to the lives of influential poets writing in English, in Britain and around the world, illuminating the influences, inspirations, and movements that have shaped the lives and works of our best-loved poets. It provides over 1,400 thoroughly revised and updated entries on modern poets active from 1910 to the present day.
First published in 1994 as the Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry in English and compiled by a team of 230 experts, including famous poets such as Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion, this edition also includes new biographical entries on more contemporary poets such as Don Paterson, Anne Carson, John Kinsella, and Leslie Marmon Silko. It also contains insightful entries by well-known peers, such as Seamus Heaney on Robert Lowell and Anne Stevenson on Sylvia Plath.
The biographies are complemented by entries on poetry events and movements and lists of anthologies and important poetry prizes and prize-winners. In addition, many entries include details of in-depth supplementary material available online on the dedicated companion website. This superb reference work is the ideal companion for students of English Literature, Language, and Creative Writing, as well as for anyone with an interest in modern poetry.
Jeremy Noel-Tod is a Lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. His published criticism includes articles on a wide range of modern poets, from W. H. Auden to Rae Armantrout. He has reviewed poetry for the Times Literary Supplement, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the New Statesman, and the London Review of Books.
Ian Hamilton was the editor of The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English. He was a well-established literary critic and wrote extensively on poetry, including The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold (1998), and Against Oblivion (2002). He was also a poet and essayist, and published many works including Steps (1997) and The Trouble with Money (1998).
Filed under Reviews, Study
(For Elizabeth Bishop) Dedication Lowell’s poem is modeled on Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Armadillo,” which Bishop had dedicated to Lowell.
Nautilus Island’s hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son’s a bishop. Her farmer
is first selectman in our village;
she’s in her dotage.
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria’s century,
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.
The season’s ill—
we’ve lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.
And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall;
his fishnet’s filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler’s bench and awl;
there is no money in his work,
he’d rather marry.
One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill’s skull;
I watched for love-cars . Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
My mind’s not right.
A car radio bleats,
“Love, O careless Love. . . .” I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat. . . .
I myself am hell;
nobody’s here —
only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their soles up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes’ red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.
I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air—
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
In the concluding episode of their acclaimed series, Seamus Perry and Mark Ford confront Robert Lowell: the Boston Brahmin for whom poetry trumped every other consideration, and whose Cold War ‘confessionalism’ came to exemplify a generation of Americans’ collective trauma; the poet who changed everything, but whose star has somehow fallen. But, Perry and Ford conclude, it will – like this podcast, we hope – rise again.
Filed under Audio, Poem, Study
It is one of the great paradoxes of modern culture. The poems and songs of Robert Burns have been carried in the minds and mortal memories of innumerable individuals all over the world, recited, sung, performed with energy, insight and enthusiasm and given pleasure to thousands, perhaps millions of people. Meanwhile, a relatively small number of first editions of his published works and an unknown number of manuscripts are purchased and exchanged for quite extraordinary sums of money as if they were intrinsically works of art in their own right, and valued as such.
But of course, that is exactly what they are. The books, especially the Kilmarnock edition, of which 612 copies were first published in 1786, or even the Edinburgh edition, 3,000 copies of which were published in 1787, are revered and treasured. They were not mass-manufactured and are worth studying as artefacts as well as for what they carry and contain. Holding one and turning its pages must be like examining the multifaceted jewels in a royal crown. The liabilities of pomp, circumstance and the protection of private property attach to the former as much, it sometimes seems, as to the latter. More so: books often have an aura that jewellery does not.
Filed under History, Study