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This review is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

THE BROKEN CIRCLE Richard Kell, The Broken Circle (Ceolfrith Press) £3.25

Richard Kell has been tagged with such a wide variety of labels that one must wonder why his work is not better-known. The answer of course is that good poetry resists pigeon-holing. Kell's poetry sits uneasily in any category, so demonstrating the very strengths and individual qualities that such simplifications inevitably obscure.

During the 1950s and early 1960s Kell became associated with both the Movement and the Group; he was also an Irish poet, with his work included in the main Irish anthologies. He became one of Chatto's 'Phoenix Living Poets', his first two books appearing in that series in 1962 and 1969. Now Ceolfrith Press in Sunderland have published his third book-length collection The Broken Circle as the first in a series called 'Ceolfrith Northern Poets'. A most regrettable invention, this: if a poet who lives in the North is any good, he should not be given such parochial billing, least of all by his publisher. An anthology may combine poetry, polemics and publicity, but a poet's own collection should not need a banner of any kind.

We all now know that the Movement did not exist as such, but was a publicity gimmick. Scorned by the writers who were said to form it, the label nevertheless stuck and was remarkably successful in promoting their work. Just recently the Movement has provided Blake Morrison with the material for his first critical book, a work which neglects to make any mention of peripheral writers like ...


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