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This report is taken from PN Review 58, Volume 14 Number 2, November - December 1987.

Response to Poetry Live Peter Riley
I am returning PN Review 56 as I quite sincerely am unable to view it as anything but an unsolicited sales catalogue, and I really don't think that a subscriber to a literary magazine should expect to receive a collection of samples (almost all previously published, some in the 1960s) accompanied by advertisement copy-writing from publishers' offices (some of that reprinted from the blurbs on the books). I believe that Clarke's article was originally in The Guardian. Even if I liked the poetry these publishers market (and most of it is risible) I would not approve of this use of a regular literary magazine for purely promotional purposes.
Yours sincerely,


P.S. And it could hardly be called a survey since Virago and the 'little presses' as represented by Password dish up the same adolescent and vacuous commercial prose as the so-called 'big' publishers. Hardly an opposition, which merely iterates the same pseudo-values, tinted only with a flush of resentment, and their tray of samples an offer of mis-shapes. Even Carcanet merely begs to differ. You would never guess from this gallimaufrey that there were any actual conflict, any base for insurgency. Whereas in fact the poetry scene in this country is quite a battle-ground, with a very strong (and incredibly smug) new establishment sitting in state while a mostly scattered and disoriented modernist left disperses most of its energy in sectarian bitterness.

As for the poetry boom - the endemic display of ...

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