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This poem is taken from PN Review 56, Volume 13 Number 6, July - August 1987.

Hutchinson
The Poetry Live campaign comes at a particularly apt moment for the Hutchinson poetry list. Almost precisely a year after our list was relaunched in the spring of 1986, it provides a second wave of publicity, critical attention and, one hopes, general excitement about good poetry, on which we hope to ride high. With new books by Gavin Ewart, Elaine Feinstein, Anthony Thwaite, Alan Brownjohn and John Wain, and a list growing both in reputation and sales, we intend to do just that.

1987 is Hutchinson's centenary year, but although volumes of poetry have appeared there from the earliest days (including, in the 1950s, work by poets as diverse as Robert Conquest, Kenneth Rexroth, Laurence Lerner and Lawrence Ferlinghetti) it was only after the 1960s that the list as a whole came to people's attention. In 1985 Hutchinson merged with Century, and this foray into corporate collectivism, so common in publishing and so frequently a cause for the rending of editorial garments, has in fact freed us from old restrictions and has certainly been of enormous benefit to the Hutchinson poetry list - not only because it sits more happily within a general publication programme which now concentrates on serious fiction and non-fiction, but also because self-generated resources are there to publish the books properly. The first fruits of this new commitment came with the relaunch of the list last year, with Dannie Abse's Ask the Bloody Horse, Kevin Crossley-Holland's Waterslain and the American poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg's The Lamplit Answer. The first two reprinted and were respectively the Choice and a Recommendation of the Poetry Book Society; the third has sold steadily and has been particularly well reviewed.

Our list is small, but growing: it consists usually of four individual titles in the spring, and three in the autumn, grouped around the annual Poetry Book Society Anthology, which we now publish in a trade edition. The poets we currently publish include Dannie Abse, Kingsley Amis, Patricia Beer, Alan Brownjohn, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Tom Disch, Stuart Evans, Ruth Fainlight, Elaine Feinstein, Daniel Hoffman, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Anthony Thwaite, John Wain and Kit Wright. Most of our poets are British (although in Disch, Hoffman and Schnackenberg we have three particularly good American poets) and with the luminous exception of Elaine Feinstein's reworkings of the poems of Tsvetayeva, we have not published European translations. We shall in future be publishing more verse anthologies (including one edited by Kingsley Amis). I shall not attempt a catchpenny definition of the list, but our aim is to publish work which is fluent, accessible and often witty, yet full of the kind of energy and resonances which make a poem worth re-reading several times with increasing pleasure and understanding. As Dannie Abse wrote in the introduction to his Collected Poems, 'My ambition has been to write poems which appear translucent but are in fact deceptions. I would have a reader enter them, be deceived he could see through them like sea-water, and be puzzled when he can not quite touch bottom.'

Of the five poets we publish this spring, three are new to the Hutchinson list. As some films make affectionate or sardonic reference to the classic cinema, so Alan Brownjohn's collection, The Old Flea-Pit, pays allusive tribute to works of literature, while the pleasures and frustrations of many year's fascination with the camera image are glanced at in numerous references to photography, television, the cinema and specific films. Many of the poems, though finally grounded in reality, contain elements of fantasy and dream, given vivid visual realization; they have come to rest in the place where it all starts, the cinema of the imagination.

Anthony Thwaite, another poet fresh to our list, concentrates in his Letter from Tokyo on the mysteries of Japanese life, the interactions, in the past and in his own experience, of two very different cultures. One section is made up of eloquent voices from the traumatic history of Japan's contact with the West over some three centuries; another, more direct, retails his own experiences; while a third groups together poems on other themes, some personal, some prompted by occasions.

John Wain's Open Country marks a welcome return, for this is his first collection for several years. He says, in a brief foreword, that he recognizes two kinds of poems: the short, tightly organized kind that hits a nail on the head, saying one thing (however multi-layered that 'one thing' may turn out to be) and the large-scale, grab-bag kind into which the poet can toss his ideas, speculations, memories and prejudices. He is represented here with 'The Shipwreck', a poem which had its origins in one of Turner's paintings.

Elaine Feinstein's Badlands (published at the end of 1986) and her translation of The Selected Poems of Marina Tsvetayeva (originally published by OUP) have already had many admiring notices. Of Badlands Peter Porter said, 'Lines of sadness fan out from Elaine Feinstein's Badlands. These are poems of self-exile beamed back to England from Southern California and sequences on the great classical myths of betrayal and desertion . . . The tone is of sorrows more ancient than any feminist protest, and the language is severely lyrical.' In his Introduction to The Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation, Charles Tomlinson, referring to her Tsvetayeva translations, describes how 'the sense of inner pressure' in the poet-translator herself 'makes vivid those versions . . . translations that embody for us the tortured years of pre- and post-revolutionary Russia, and the way they were suffered by a very unEnglish sensibility, but a sensibility that has, at last, found for itself a style in English . . . By neglecting what cannot be convincingly reproduced in English the Feinstein versions [go] immediately to the heart of what can - that jagged, breathless, self-wearing tone of Tsvetayeva's poems.'

Gavin Ewart's new collection is particularly strong, and emphasizes, even more than usual, the seriousness which lies behind the great entertainment and brilliant facility of his work. Some of the most prized wines of the German wine-growers are made by leaving the grapes on the vine until after the first frosts, and sometimes even until ice has formed around them, concentrating the sweetness of the grape. His title, Late Pickings, refers to this. Gavin Ewart feels that by the age of seventy, whether you like it or not, a poet has achieved his own flavour.
TONY WHITTOME
 
JOHN WAIN
The Shipwreck


This canvas yells the fury of the sea.
Across a quiet room, where people murmur
their poised appreciations, it shrieks out
the madness of the wind.
                         How can that be?
Woven of voiceless threads, its pigments laid
with 'no more sound than the mice make', it hurls
...


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