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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

Antipodean poets etc

From:

Anthony Frazer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 27 Feb 1998 23:04:31 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (66 lines)

As someone who does - with great interest - read a lot of Aussie poets
(but, er, I've not read AJL's work yet - if I can get the New & Selected
book through Glebe online, I will), let me echo Anthony Lawrence's
statement. One of the great idiocies of poetry publishing - whether
mainstream or "alternative" or whatever the acceptable term is for what
most of us on this list seem to like - is that it stays within national
boundaries. When these boundaries break down it tends to be Brits in the
US or Americans in the UK. Both sides incluide Irish writers, I'll
admit. Somehow no-one includes the Canadians or the New Zealanders,
although the Australians have a little more exposure ... but, hey, you
know there are a whole lot of people out there who write in English who
are not nationals of ANY of these countries. India above all has some
very interesting poets writing in English (not to mention many more
writing in any one of the 100-odd other official languages), Africa has
others, the Philippines apparently has many (according to someone whose
opinion I respect and who is working now in Manila). There are others in
Malaysia, Singapore and so the list goes on, although I confess I have
not liked any of the work that I've seen from that area - it's mostly
been sub-Enright or -Thwaite. And I did not mention Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka - the list goes on - because I've seen zip from
those countries.

I find it strange that a community (sorry, Peter ...) that would no
doubt pour scorn on nationalism in any form implicitly allows this state
of affairs to continue. What's the answer? Well, I for one dream of the
mega-anthology covering work in English from everywhere: the millenium's
not a bad time to do it, either. How about it someone? Could we interest
some press or other? Could we interest a Commonwealth cultrual grouping
to fund it? Could we stop it being full of Motions and Morrisons and
Raines? Could we prevent it being a zoo-like collection of "interesting
specimens from out there" (the most likely outcome, I fear) ?

It's interesting to compare this situation to that which holds sway in
other languages: Spanish anthologies tend to remain Iberian, except
where they claim to be Latin American - in which case the whole
continent is covered (and that makes for a damn sight more interesting
book than the Iberian version). Portuguese tend to be wider-ranging
(i.e. they are also Brazilian); French anthologies that I've seen ignore
anything outside Metropolitan France except where they include co-opted
"colonial" writers such as Senghor and Cesaire. German-language
anthologies tend to be also Austrian and Swiss, but there is a real
transnational community there owing to the fact that the states involved
are contiguous and the magazines and publishing houses enjoy at least
some kind of transnational distribution. I can't comment for other
languages, but it seems to me that it's high time the English language -
the most widely-spread and -read of all - should have its poetry
anchored in the whole world rather than in the middle of the Atlantic.
And, hey, I'm guilty too: Shearsman is almost all Anglo-American,
although there have been some Irish and Australian poets in there from
time to time (the nest one, out in a couple of weeks has John Tranter,
for instance).

I'll sign off there, and go back to reading my recently arrived copy of
Boxkite - an Aussie journal edited by an Oz-resident Scotsman which
contains lots of British, American and Australian work. Nothing from
Canada, India etc - but it's only the first issue, and it's a stunner.

Have a good weekend folks,

Tony




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