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This article is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

'Am I Rambling? I Hope So': Reading Peter Riley David Wheatley

'What Song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling Questions are not beyond all conjecture' begins Sir Thomas Browne's Hydrotaphia, Urn Burial: 'But who were the proprietaries of these bones, or what bodies these ashes made up, were a question above Antiquarism.' Future antiquarians of British poetry, take note. Why Daisy Goodwin wanted to save our lives with a slew of self-help anthologies; why Don Paterson introduced American readers to British poetry (in his co-edited New Gen redux anthology, New British Poetry) with a furious diatribe against unnamed 'postmodernist' poets; or why (to take a counter example) Andrew Duncan published a poster map of postwar British poetry in the Chicago Review that did not so much as mention Thom Gunn or Geoffrey Hill, though also puzzling questions, need not be beyond conjecture. Brendan Behan had Irish politics in mind when he said the first item on the agenda was always the split, but for those resolved to part company with the poetry of Peter Riley before reading it, reasons will not be found wanting. Editorship of The English Intelligencer with Andrew Crozier; early publications with Grosseteste Press; a Cambridge address from which he has laboured long in the stony acres of the British small press scene; the anthology company he keeps; all this will add up for many readers to one almighty fennish whiff. Even the man's surname, ...


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