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PN Review 275
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This report is taken from PN Review 275, Volume 50 Number 3, January - February 2024.

Eddie Linden 1935–2023 Hilary Davies
The death of the publisher and poet Eddie Linden, aged eighty-eight, marks the passing of one of the most distinctive figures in post-war British poetry. Passionate literary advocate, formidable networker, vehement socialist, conflicted Catholic, vociferous homosexual, obstreperous friend – for nearly fifty years this indomitable bundle of contradictions was a presence on the poetry scene in London, in Dublin, in Edinburgh, in Glasgow.

Yet who was Eddie Linden? The story of his childhood and upbringing is well known, not only from Sebastian Barker’s biography of him, Who is Eddie Linden (Jay Landesman, 1971), but from Eddie himself, who was infamous for buttonholing strangers over a drink to relate who he was. Or who he had constructed himself to be. Such moments are beautifully captured in Gerald Mangan’s affectionate cartoon of Eddie, published in the festschrift in honour of his eightieth birthday, Eddie’s Own Aquarius, in which an enquiring Eddie looks up at a distinctly gruff God the Father while the archangel Gabriel nervously explains, ‘He says he’s a manic-depressive alcoholic lapsed-Catholic Irish working-class pacifist-communist bastard from Glasgow. And would you like to subscribe to a poetry magazine?’

That’s the legend. And of course in part the reality. The key to this legend is the poetry magazine, Aquarius. Until the age of thirty, Eddie led a life that can genuinely be described as picaresque, witness the definition here which could have been written of and for Eddie, ‘pícaro: the outcast who attempts to survive precariously within a hostile environment… the pícaro… devises pragmatic strategies of survival… not an outright rebel, ...

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