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This review is taken from PN Review 92, Volume 19 Number 6, July - August 1993.

The New Poetry, edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley (Bloodaxe) £25.00, £7.95 pb

Among the present century's most familiar and most abused sayings is one of just nine letters, three syllables: Make It New. The last little word's dazzling brilliance seems to blind many people to the existence of the middle one. 'Make It New' was what Pound said, not 'Make New', and that 'It' comprehends something like a whole cultural heritage. 'Renew, re-invigorate, revitalize' was patently what Pound understood by his Confucian motto: he would have been the last person to sanction the ignorant and destructive pursuit of uninformed novelty as a proper procedure for the poet. The reflection is scarcely an original one, but is is almost inescapably reactivated by the appearance of this anthology.

Not that Messrs Hulse, Kennedy and Morley are concerned to trace the bold epithet in their title back to Pound. They do, however, recall that 'Thirty years ago, A. Alvarez published his ground-breaking anthology The New Poetry' and, with a brazenness which proves all too characteristic of their discourse, they add: 'We make no apology for using his title for an anthology of poetry that is fresh in its attitudes, risk-taking in its address, and plural in its forms and voices.' What these notably unfocused claims mean in practice we shall see in due course, but in the meantime apologies would have been in order, and not just for that dimly journalistic description of Alvarez's book as 'ground-breaking'. His The New Poetry was a different sort of enterprise altogether.

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