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This article is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Discovering Raworth Philip Terry
WHEN I MOVED from the University of Plymouth to the University of Essex in 2003 I brought with me a gift from my friend Tony Lopez, the just-published Collected Poems of Tom Raworth, from Carcanet. This was the start of a love affair not just with the work of Tom Raworth, but with that of many other British and American poets who had collided with the University of Essex in the late 1960s and early ’70s: Ted Berrigan, the Ed Dorn of Gunslinger, Anna Mendleson, Ralph Hawkins, Charles Olson, Alice Notley and others.

That first encounter with Raworth’s work, though, was explosive, and it opened this door for me. Opening his Collected Poems was like seeing the work of Picasso for the first time, and I was immediately won over by poems – were they poems? – as various as Logbook, From the Hungarian and Ace. Raworth redefines what is possible in poetry. His note to From the Hungarian (written with Val Raworth) explains the origin of the poems: ‘Three poems of mine had been translated into Hungarian, a language of which we know nothing: we translated them back one morning, three of each, each… then we shuffled them.’ I was reminded of the translator Ermes Marana in Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler who translates from languages he doesn’t know with the aim of subverting literary texts and the literary establishment and ultimately the social order. Marana is associated with the OEPHLW (the Organisation for the Electronic Production of Homogenised Literary Works), a thinly disguised fictionalisation ...

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