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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  August 2009

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS August 2009

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Subject:

Re: "Has British Poetry had any significance since Wordsworth?"

From:

Jamie McKendrick <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British & Irish poets <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:40:59 +0100

Content-Type:

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Sorry - in that last sentence of mine read 'encountered' for 
'encountering' -
another day of this and I'll be writing total gibberish.

> You've misunderstood me. I haven't ever encountering a piece of your
> critical writing which was in praise of any poetry, and so I don't yet
> know whether I'd dislike it. You may believe that dismissing huge swathes
> of poetry is the best defence for the kind of writing you genuinely
> admire, but I think the strategy is mistaken, and only backfires,
> Jamie

Jeff,
 Within a forum like this I understand that detailed argument is hard to 
present. But it's a constraint we're all under. I've mentioned about a dozen 
or more poets (C19th and C20th who I don't think fit your thesis) and you've 
mentioned , as far as I recall, none who do. Lists are just chat which has 
an eerie permanence, and I can see why there should be a proper reluctance 
to "name names" - personally I wouldn't want to use the medium to criticize 
other poets, though I'd feel permitted to do so in the context of a review. 
But after all it's not such a terrible insult to say 'x' has been influenced 
by 'y', particularly if 'y' happens to be a great poet.

   You say "It is really his admirers that I am critical of, or rather those 
admirers that have embraced him to such an extent that his influence is now 
supreme."
  Here for example you could suggest some further reading, just a few 
names. - Because I share Peter's confusion on this point, and warm to his 
idea that more of this influence might not be a bad thing.
   Let me start you off. There's obviously Heaney who is steeped in 
Wordsworth - but I think that topic has been explored enough between us and 
on this list. Elizabeth Bishop ironically described herself as something 
like "a minor twentieth-century female Wordsworthian" - I can't recall the 
exact quote. I imagine you'd hate her poems and anyway she's not UK. Peter, 
I think it was, mentioned Prynne in this context. But apart from them, if 
you are "critical of " his admirers you must have someone in mind or else 
you'd just be firing at a blank target? I confess that among most 
contemporary poets I know I've barely heard a single reference to 
Wordsworth, and can see little sign of his influence, good or bad.
   If you don't want to pursue this question, that's fine by me - you could 
always post a more detailed and more closely argued piece on your blog.
Best wishes,
Jamie




Jamie,

It is very difficult for me in the context of a forum to present a detailed
argument for my position regarding Wordsworth's influence on UK
poetry. That's why I suggested an email exchange, where I can send
you articles and chapters I have written by email attachment. This can't
be done on a forum for obvious reasons.

My gripe with Wordwsworth is not so much that I don't like his poetry,
but that he is taken so seriously. It is really his admirers that I am
critical of, or rather those admirers that have embraced him to such an
extent that his influence is now supreme.

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