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Monday, 18 July 2011

Welcome to New Poetries

In the wet Manchester May of 1994, Carcanet published the first of its now five-volume New Poetries anthologies, Maurice Tempelsman read Cavafy's 'Ithaka' at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's funeral, and movie-goers first heard John Hannah read Auden's 'Funeral Blues' in Four Weddings and a Funeral. That same year, Paul Muldoon's The Annals of Chile appeared from Faber, going on to win the T.S. Eliot Prize, and Coach House Books published Christian Bök's Crystallography, a warning bell that signalled the arrival of conceptual poetry. In the autumn, there were films about poets, Alan Rudolph's Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, and Michael Radford's Il Postino. This was in the years between Walcott's and Heaney's winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature -- the last major poets to do so. And poetry itself was in the middle of something: it was selling, it was in the movies, there was product (Muldoon) and counterproduct (Bök).

Much of what was happening in 1994 continues today: for better or worse, poets are still at the cinema -- Plath (2003), Bright Star (2009), Howl (2010) -- and have even started popping up in fiction -- Bolaño's The Savage Detectives (2007) and Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist (2009); Muldoon is amid the most influential poets of his generation, and, to a very different generation, so is Bök. In the middle of all this the latest New Poetries arrives.

Over the past seventeen years, Carcanet's New Poetries anthologies have introduced some sixty poets to readers, 'published from Britain, [providing] a vista across a worldscape from a fixed point'. This blog is dedicated to the difference and variety of the New Poetries anthologies, to 'the irreducible plural of the title'. We hope readers will find here some thoughtful discussion on the workings of poetry, and ideas about and around the writing of poetry today.

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