1) While I take Alan Halsey's point about the increasing vagueness of terms
like "Cambridge" & "London", I should note that I'm not sure the openness of
anthologies follows a neat historical pattern: for instance, _A Various Art_
& _The New British Poetry_ (Paladin) appeared more or less simultaneously in
the late 1980s, & the latter remains a superb example of eclectic but canny
editing. (Where else can you get Jackie Kay & Carol Ann Duffy inside the
same covers as Allen Fisher & John Wilkinson?) One wishes the editors of _A
Various Art_ had been more explicit as to the principles of their
selection--it is basically a showcase of the work of UK poets published by
the Ferry & Grosseteste presses.
2) I'm puzzled as to the comments about poetry & academe. First of all, in
North America there's a huge presence of "creative writing" programs in
universities: I'm aware this has yet to happen in the UK to anywhere close
to this degree. But such programs are usually criticized--not just from
avantgarde quarters--as basically mills churning out conformist dreck, so
I'm not sure it's necessarily wise to hope that there might be _more_
poetry-writing within academe. If you want an account of a lot of this look
at Christopher Beach's _Poetic Culture_: not an especially distinguished
book but useful for a quick sketch. Authors like Charles Bernstein have
often attacked writing workshops as part of "Official Verse Culture".
(Though the problems endemic to such workshops are not easily circumvented
perhaps: Bernstein's own program at SUNY was criticized by a jaundiced
correspondent of mine for "cranking out epigoni".) -- In any case, I tend to
be pretty skeptical of claims that nonpoets (in particular academics who
write lit.crit.) are incapable of saying intelligent things about poetry, or
that critical writing isn't a creative act.
3) If we're going to value certain poetries for challenging one's notions
about things (to be vague for a sec) then why should we then ascribe
incompetence to those who find they can't handle the stuff, are bewildered
by it or just hate it? One might permit people to make _mistakes_ however
much it hurts to see them made in a public forum like a review, often with a
vehemence of tone the author may later regret (or may not, of course). A
good instance is the rubbishing of _Conductors of Chaos_ by Robert Potts in
the _TLS_: a few years later he published a contrite review of Prynne's
_Poems_ mentioning his mistaken dismissal of Prynne in the earlier review &
instead reviewing the book at hand patiently & mostly positively.
Last note: I may be imagining things but my impression is that, no, _The
Antigonish Review_ isn't terribly influential, at least presently. Just
looked at a copy in the library--man, what an ugly cover (done by a relative
of the editor).
By the way is _Foil_ out yet? Any comments?
all best --N
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