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This item is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

Letters from Trevor Tolley
Tambi's Note


Peter Faulkner (PNR 174) asks about a passage from Selected Writing. Selected Writing was one of the many ventures of Reginald Moore, the editor of Modern Reading in the late 1940s. It seems to have appeared annually - or as near as wartime printing allowed - in Autumn 1941, early 1943, Winter 1944, early 1946 and later in 1946; and to have been devoted, in part, to reprints. It was published by Nicholson & Watson, who had taken on Tambimuttu's Editions Poetry London. Moore selected the prose, while he engaged poets to select the poetry: Tambimuttu for issues 1 and 3; Henry Treece for the second issue; John Arlott for the fourth; and Patric Dickinson for the fifth. Circulation was not good; and a ruinous conclusion was reached when Moore and Tambi were abandoned by Nicholson & Watson in the post-war years, and sought to have the periodical published by a company in Dublin. To save foreign currency, the government had prohibited the importation of fiction into Britain, with the result that this last issue could not be brought in for sale.

The editorials in Selected Writing are brief and commonplace, and it is not surprising that Tambimuttu wrote with a facetious journalistic flavour in the passage from the Winter 1944 number that Faulkner quotes. 'Youth Movements' I would say refers to the fact that the poets he had chosen were not of the newest generation, like Alex Comfort, Nicholas Moore, or John Heath-Stubbs. They were ones who had mostly come along in the 1930s, and in some danger of neglect. The phrase 'merry-mythmaking' could refer to the Apocalypse Movement's preoccupation with 'myth'; while 'massed formation flights' is a metaphor that clearly derives from wartime experience, but may refer to the association of poets with movements, such as the new romanticism or personalism.

Your readers may be intrigued by some information from Reginald Moore's papers concerning the poems in the issue that Peter Faulkner cites. Moore had originally suggested half-a-guinea each. George Baker was paid two guineas for four poems, W.S. Graham got one guinea for 'Fifth Journey'; Richard Church, F.T. Prince, Ruthven Todd, Kathleen Raine, Francis King, Julian Symons and Anne Ridler also got a guinea each; and Tambi got five guineas for selecting. Concerning the others, I have no note.

Williamsburg, Ontario

This item is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

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