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This report is taken from PN Review 179, Volume 34 Number 3, January - February 2008.

Archive Corner 8: The Implements are [out of] their Lapces Stella Halkyard

Mischief in the Manuscripts of W.S. Graham

Keenly alive to the autonomy of words and their power to 'make their own world' by surprising poets and readers into seeing 'a new place',1 W.S. Graham was always 'fascinated by the transformations that could be achieved by breaching the conventional boundaries of words and sentences'. In his poems he habitually ran words together, split them apart and changed their spelling to create new meanings.2 In 1977 the Poetry Book Society nominated Imp lements in their

Places
for their Choice and he prepared a short commentary about the book for the autumn issue of the Society's Bulletin. Imagine his glee upon finding evidence of what he calls 'typesetter's surrealism'3 in the copy of the article he annotated and sent to Michael Schmidt, editor of the poetry magazine then known as Poetry Nation. The archives of Poetry Nation are now amongst those of the Carcanet Press and PN Review and held in the John Rylands Library. In addition to surrealism they contain an exchange of letters between poet and editor spanning several years and a cache of draft manuscripts or 'worksheets' of a number of Graham's poems including 'Ten Shots of Mr Simpson', 'The Thermal Stair', '[What is the language using us for]', 'A Dream of Crete', 'For My Wife at Midnight', and 'How are the Children Robin'. The ...


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