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

How Radio Works 3: Tom Raworth - Time, Identity and Tradition John Muckle

4: stretching along in mundane time-consciousness

Raworth has produced some oft-quoted aesthetic dicta, but though occasionally strident, they are not intentionally dogmatic. They are subject to a process of formulation and abandonment, continually being tried out, moved on from, broken - as though the poet is compelled to be his own next generation, breaking the rules more cleverly. He isn't proposing that the past be junked, but urging a different relationship to it. His poetics seems founded on an idea of continual change, of movement, of permanent revolution: notions that nevertheless imply - as well as a present, and possibly a future - something one is moving away from. There is in his poetry a steady interest in a point of origin, in the pre-written, the early experience, in whatever it was that started the ball rolling. Someone who writes what amounts to an autobiography at the age of 30 is, I submit, interested in his own origins, in how the present has emerged from the past.

A Serial Biography (1969)35 is derived from letters to Black Mountain poet Ed Dorn and has O'Hara's idea of poem as letter behind it. The materials are mostly the poet's childhood and adolescence. The prose is unornamented - or rather its ornament is concealed - so as not to interrupt a music that is interested in getting it exactly right, in as little gap as possible between recall and the recording hand. ...


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