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This interview is taken from PN Review 83, Volume 18 Number 3, January - February 1992.

F.T Prince in Conversation Anthony Howell

Frank Templeton Prince was born in South Africa in 1912; he has lived in England since 1931. During the war he served in Army Intelligence, mainly at Bletchley Park, and later became professor of English at Southampton University. His Collected Poems will be published this year by Anvil Press.

* * *

Anthony Howell: Many of your poems operate within the framework of a metric form, sometimes with quite elaborate stanzas. What do you think is to be gained from working within such limitations?

F. T. Prince: Well, one of the things you gain is a working process which brings in ideas and images which you wouldn't otherwise find. Nothing to me is more off-putting than sitting down to write a poem without any structural principles. That seems to bring me to a halt; whereas if I have a form to work to, a very loose form sometimes, that is at once a starting point and a support.

In your earlier books one notices a delight in sheer syntax as in 'Epistle To A Patron', how do you think you've moved on from such a linguistic tour-de-force?

Well, if you look at my poetry broadly there's an obvious move towards greater simplicity of language. To some extent the earlier work was a display of things I liked to do, like the syntax you refer to, and perhaps it was too much so. But the idea that a poem should ...


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