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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This item is taken from PN Review 180, Volume 34 Number 4, March - April 2008.

Letters from Dan Hitchens
A Highly Confused Love Life and
Muddled Ideas

Sir:

Ian Kendall's impressive defence of élitism in issue number 179 would have been even more convincing if he'd paid attention to the facts. Attacking Neil Astley and his Bloodaxe anthologies, Kendall repeatedly suggests that Astley prefers the Mersey Sound poets to Yeats, Eliot and Frost. In reality, the closest Astley comes to criticising Yeats is his assertion (in the introduction to Staying Alive) that 'W.B. Yeats wrote great poetry despite having a highly confused love life and muddled ideas.' Meanwhile, the last three pages of Being Alive are given over to a pair of extracts from Four Quartets. Roger McGough and Brian Patten don't even appear in the anthology, in spite of their popularity.

You do start to wonder whether Kendall has opened the books whose values he claims to be debunking. He believes that Astley's anthologies contain poetry's equivalents of 'Barbara Cartland'. Kendall can't really be referring to Bunting, Stevens, Simic, Jarrell, Crane, Frost, Eliot, Hill, Yeats, Heaney, Brecht, Muldoon, Pound, Rilke, Mahon and Berryman. Can he?

DAN HITCHENS


Tim Kendall replies:

My gratitude to Jan Hutchings for finding my essay impressive is only slightly tempered by her having got my name wrong. As I have never compared the poets included in Neil Astley's anthologies to Barbara Cartland, I wonder if this might be a case of mistaken identity? On the subject of Yeats: I merely recorded Mr Astley's admission that he slept through Yeats at school and was woken up by the Liverpool Poets. His appreciation may since have deepened. The line quoted from Staying Alive speaks volumes.



This item is taken from PN Review 180, Volume 34 Number 4, March - April 2008.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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