HomeMore Anthologies! Twentieth Century Anthologies & Poets on What They Do


This is here really to give historical context to the whole project of British Innovative Poetry, by going back to The British Poetry Revival. It is undoubtedly not exhaustive, and reflects my interests — probably downplaying concrete poetry and related visual/performative material. It also mainly lists relatively large scale and widely available publications. Recent (ie Third Millennium anthologies are listed on Recent Anthologies subsequent to those discussed in "How Did British Innovative Poetry Come About?".

In historical sequence ...

Hollo was a crucial proponent of poetic innovation in the 50s & 60s; "jazz poetry" was a popular recipe for presenting poetry to wider and new audiences. Could be boring (Alan Brownjob!); could be fierce fun (Spike Hawkins!)

A much wider net than the usual suspects, by the admirable Lucie-Smith, a late Twentieth Century poet & critic genuinely interested in what was new in poetry. This account and survey is of exciting grassroots/art college innovation, before it got turned into showbiz antics.

with cover by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat! Roche was from Liverpool, founded poetry and music group The Occasional Word Ensemble, and acted in the late 60s as a poetry adviser for John Peel's Night Ride. His introduction is pushing "live poetry", and his little book anticipates the more famous:

Pure Sixties neo-Blakean ecstasy! Pioneers, beats, Cambridge poets, Michael X, John Arden, Lee Harwood (everyone bar the Liverpool Poets).

Genuine attempt to map all varieties of British poetry. Don't bother with the counter-revolutionary 1985 edition!

The first version of the Cambridge School, plus friends (including me). Not at all useful introduction

John Muckle was reponsible for this anthology, with separate sections for Black British Poetry, Quote Feminist Unquote Poetry, A Treacherous Assault on British Poetry ("Cambridge", "London" and other poets publishing since 1960s) and Some Younger Poets (the new generation of the "linguistically innovative poets" – mainly London-based)

assisted by Jennifer Pike, introduction by Eric Mottram, this is big, bold, varied and outgoing (but never explanatory), from Writers Forum Workshop poets and their friends & inspirations

absolutely pioneering anthology of both US & UK poetically radical feminist poets

A wide range of poets, including some performance poets (and short selections of a number of "Forties" generation poets also)

"We have asked around forty poets internationally to contribute linear verbal poetry and visual poetry and to discuss the differences and similarities which they see between them, especially in relation to performance." A wide range of the leading concrete/conceptual performance poets, many talking about their work.

Joris was a leading member of the UK innovative poetry community in the 1970s and 80s. This, like Caddel & Quatermain's volume below is a very considered selection, but without UK distribution.

Ric Caddel was a much-loved poet and publisher (died 2003), based in the North-East. This volume had no UK distribution.

The bee's knees, a work of genuine inclusivity and scholarship. The future starts here.

Even more historic

The World We Have Lost. A cool and intelligent look at British poetry of the 1940s by the American poet Kenneth Rexroth, which maps out well a literary culture shortly to be decimated and officially erased from English culture by the White Terror of the 1950s. A predecessor as it were of the Tuma anthology. Book digitally archived at the Internet Archive.

Poets on What They Do

Always fascinating! I've not used the lists of "Literary Histories" and "Critical Texts" — ask your local academic, they get paid for such things! — but I hope this is a valuable resource for poets. The texts deal both with "poetics" and the actual activity in the world which poets have engaged in connected with their poetics. Most have a first-person narrative at their heart, bar one historical account, based on extensive interviews and research, and dealing with fascinating but often neglected or forgotten attempts to weld and wield both poetic and social/political radicalism.

Well, a Canadian anthology of complete serial poems? — think of Jack Spicer naming Robin Blaser as his inheritor, and it makes sense! Excellent poems by major figures here, with statements by the poets. I include because it's a little-regarded work that inspires me!

A wide range of very varied but often very fruitful pieces on "the working processes" of poetry, by, largely, Cambridge poets (60s–70s) and friends

Complex meditation on the language "I" in self-aware poetry, such as Riley's.

Brief but insightful essay on all that is meant by "text", written to accompany major exhibition held in Bury organised by Trehy.

Very detailed account of the brief period in the early Seventies when innovative poets were the dominant influence within the Poetry Society's headquarters in London, and the intensely political counter-revolution that routed them. The politics of innovative poetry at its most intense.

Some excellent interviews, deeply revealing about the writing of poetry and about specific points in the development of innovative British poetry; but, really, guys, only one woman poet!

A detailed personal account, with many examples

Emphasis on performance, with a very wide spread of contemporary approaches discussed

A curious and diverting assembly from a very wide range of poets

Sheppard writing as eye-witness (& ear-witness) to episodes in the development of British Innovative Poetry from 1970 to the beginning of this century. Some excellent material here!

Excellent series of detailed interviews.

Accounts by poets writing and creating their own scenes for innovative poetry between the late Fifties and the Nineties, outside the hegemonic culture hearths of London & Cambridge. Fascinating.

Does what it says with all sorts of varied & self-aware stuff that does all that it claims. Mainly Canadian (and that's good! read others! particularly Canadians I'd add), but some excellent UK contributions (De'Ath was teaching in Canada at this point).

Fascinating accounts of two fully countercultural poetry scenes located in Preston and Blackburn, from the Sixties to the present, based on extensive interviews with Jim Burns, and Dave Cunliffe and Tina Morris. Feel inspired! The issues are still current.

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