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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This item is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

PN Review at 250
Celebrating 250 Issues
‘If one of the defining characteristics of most magazines is that, like most bands, they have a very short shelf life, then PN Review is immediately uncharacteristic. It’s been going so long that many of us have all but forgotten what the P and the N stand for. I think of them as opening and closing the word Provocation. And that’s why I so love the magazine.’

Paul Muldoon




‘When I was at Oxford in the mid-1970s, modern poetry stopped with Auden. As Professor of Poetry, John Wain could fill the Sheldonian by lecturing on Larkin. In those pre-internet days, it was hard to find out what else was going on. The British Poetry Revival was off most people’s radar. I remember standing in Blackwells and reading the newly published North, but it was mostly a narrow diet. Until, that is, I stumbled on PN Review, which began its modest, magazine-sized publication in 1976, with an issue that included Octavio Paz, Donald Davie and C.H. Sisson and led with a fighting editorial in favour of ‘literary catholicity’ and seriousness by Michael Schmidt. Every issue enlarged the territory (Montale, Ashbery, a review of J.H. Prynne’s Brass), and reaffirmed Schmidt’s ‘belief in the centrality of the creative imagination and of... critical intelligence’. It did this not just by introducing new poets but by giving space to the half-forgotten (e.g. W.S. Graham) whose value time has endorsed.

International, venturesome, tenacious, PN Review has kept going by remaining true to its eclecticism and its faith in imagination and intelligence. When new issues arrive, I check out Vahni Capildeo’s latest, read the editorial, then watch the whole thing open like an origami umbrella.’

John Kerrigan



‘A poetry magazine can have a lifespan of a single issue or continue for more than a century, and either way leave behind a notable history; but however long they last, literary magazines do the work of discovery, and there can be no resting on laurels. That PN Review and Michael Schmidt – and one is inseparable from the other – have reached a landmark issue, number 250, therefore speaks literal, and enduring, volumes. Combined with the achievements of Carcanet Press, there is before us an unduplicated record of achievement; and that this has unfolded over a period of decades that have seen epochal changes not only in our world, but in poetry itself, is most remarkable. When future readers and historians alike want to see what poets were capable of in our time, they will of necessity consult the pages of PN Review – and when they do, they will be as intrigued and delighted as we are, its contemporary readers. What’s distinctive about PNR is that it takes poetry and its readership seriously: it is absorbing in a way that both requires and facilitates concentration. And that’s just the most salutary of its many pleasures.

On a personal note, I can say that PN Review has always been one of the few magazines I turn to first the moment it arrives; I tear into it, and no sooner do I finish an issue than I wander back through it, and start to wonder how soon I can see the next one. Because I know from my own work that an editor is, in a sense, only as good as the next issue, I can tell you that this ongoing momentum constitutes an enviable achievement. On an even more personal note: When I was starting out as a writer and translator of poetry, it was one of maybe three places I aspired to have work published in – and it still is.

All of which is to say that the landscape of English-language poetry is unimaginable without PN Review, and neither is our understanding of and appreciation for that poetry. Here’s to the next 250!’

Don Share



‘With its distinctive international coverage, PN Review is, to my mind, THE British poetry journal. I never miss an issue!’

Marjorie Perloff


This item is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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