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This review is taken from PN Review 199, Volume 37 Number 5, May - June 2011.

AMONG FRIENDS A Field of Large Desires: A Greville Press Anthology, 1975-2010, edited by Anthony Astbury (Carcanet) £14.95

The Greville Press, founded in 1975 by the Warwickshire poet Anthony Astbury, grew out of his friendship with George Barker, author of the first Greville chapbook, 'Seven Poems', and W.S. Graham. Its quickly developed intentions were to publish poets new and old in pamphlets with an affectionate regard for the principles of clear typography and design; to revive reputations (the Press is named for another Warwick man, the courtier poet, Fulke Greville) and to expand the circle of lyric friendship, making welcome, as it were, the friends of friends (Sally Purcell's sensitive romantic-historical sketches one year, and her tougher translations of the sixteenth-century Gaspara Stampa the next); to be consistently and amiably broadminded.

These are honourable aims, indicated, with forgivable sleight of hand, by the title of this new anthology, A Field of Large Desires, a selection of poems culled from 190 publications. The suggestive phrase is Greville's, from Sonnet 102 of the sequence Caelica (1633), and it is a definition of youth rather than broadmindedness. The poet goes on to say that youth is the condition of being convinced of oneself, and that this fiery conviction is always attractive, drawing others into its sphere of influence, to the benefit of all. But it's also narrowly focused, of course - a kind of opinionated self-love, which people must be prepared to, and generally do, indulge.

Editors are like this, too, Astbury hints: apparently open-hearted and full of fine-sounding convictions, actually ruled by a personal taste ...


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