Simon Armitage was obviously the wrong person to ask and deserves all
disrespect for "liking" only Australian poets published by British
publishers. It's obviously nothing to do with liking.
Since John Kinsella arrived in "Cambridge" Australian poetry has been
greatly opened up. My impression is of an active and healthy scene
unhindered by the embattled sectarianism of British poetry though not
without ambition and rivalry but what ever is?. I don't think, for
instance, the concept MAINSTREAM could mean much to an Australian poetry
person. There's an unthreatened and calm assurance in a lot of Australian
poetry, a sense that you do what you do for its evident value to the world,
without thereby joining a club class clan or sect. Doing it doesn't carry a
sub-text of un-doing what someone-else does (which is really what it is
like on a lot of the poetical left in UK). Loony extremism probably doesn't
cut much ice either. There's a kind of central modernist continuum like USA
used to have in the 1950s. We badly need this kind of thing and it could
do nothing but good for British poets to read extensively and take in the
tone of John Tranter, Gig Ryan, Robert Adamson (who I think is a superb
poet), Tracy Ryan, Gwen Harwood, the late John Forbes and others, in
addition to the three Simon Armitage knows about.
Gig Ryan will be reading at the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry
in April. (So by the way will Bob Perelman who inexplicably got omitted
from previous lists)
Booklets and pamphlets by Kinsella, T Ryan, Tranter, Forbes, Adamson have
been or will be published by Equipage and other Cambridge presses.
Looking at my unopened mail I see that three very well qualified persons
have already replied to this query, so I might be redundant before I start.
Yes I am. Tony Frazer's pan-english-language-poetry proposition is very
praiseworthy, though the millenial anthology idea is idealistic. To avoid
all the usual large-scale falsities would need a Super-editor. I also
question why We (here) should feel that Indian or Malaysian poets need to
be discovered by Us, except for our own benefit. What people forget is that
the poetry scene in places like that is probably ten times the size of the
tiny English scene, with a much higher readership per poet, without
official interference, and comparatively unsplintered. Why any Australian
or Indian poet should want to be published in this acrid little corner
defeats me entirely.
Probably anthologies are not the answer. Poets have to be read singly.
(There was a Bloodaxe anthology which entered this zone and omitted
80percent of it.) But the Bloodaxe Aussie anthology is useful as well as
Kinsella's Poetry Chicago. The periodical with the kind of editorial
broadness likely to be most valuable in these zones is John Kinsella's
SALT, a large paperback which appears about every 4 months. I mean the way
it deals with Austral/UK/USA at present, cutting across all known bulwarks,
is the way any further projection would need to be handled.