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This review is taken from PN Review 144, Volume 28 Number 4, March - April 2002.

TYPEWRITER BADMINTON Richard Wilbur in conversation with Peter Dale; Anthony Hecht in conversation with Philip Hoy; Donald Justice in conversation with Philip Hoy (Between the Lines) £9.50 each

A small press dedicated to publishing booklength interviews with established poets, Between the Lines was born during a lunch in 1997 when Peter Dale and the late Ian Hamilton, who had known each other since Oxford, were joined by Dale's quondam pupil Philip Hoy, who was seeking to publish a long interview with W.D. Snodgrass. The resulting press has produced a further eight volumes: the latest three are reviewed here, while another five are lined up for future publication.

Such a venture could only succeed with a great deal of thought going not only into the format of the book, but also into the interview itself. The brief is to publish 'unusually wide-ranging and unusually deep-going interviews with some of today's most accomplished poets', but obviously - rather than having them sound like a random conversation over lunch - much is done to direct the interviews. Each volume also contains a comprehensive bibliography of both primary and secondary works, an objective selection of critical views, and a recent poem or two. This material is invaluable for both scholar and critic, and is a good index of the press's attention to detail.

While not formally structured, the interviews are part biography, part individual ars poetica, with a good number of general reflections on life and letters thrown in along the way. Interestingly, interviews are not conducted face-to-face, but via what Wilbur playfully termed 'typewriter badminton'. Apart from the fact that this practice results in a text ...


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