PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Next Issue Alberto Manguel Selbstgefühl New poems by Fleur Adcock, Claudine Toutoungi and Tuesday Shannon James Campbell A Walk through the Times Literary Supplement
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

A Living Poet Fraser Steel

'I think you might find this one quite interesting,' said George MacBeth. It was late in a summer afternoon spent ransacking George's office, in preparation for his departure from the BBC. He had been admirably thorough in passing on programme suggestions, and I was no longer in the mood to be much interested in anything. What I slipped dutifully into my briefcase was a letter from a publisher drawing attention, in the disinterested way publishers will, to a forthcoming edition of Edgell Rickword, and a copy of the 1947 Collected Poems.

As I made my first acquaintance with the poems (it was on the Pullman back to Manchester-`Ode to a Train-de-luxe' did not miss its mark) it was the sudden presence of a new and unaccountable voice that struck me. In this agile and confident verse there were tones I had not heard sounded in the familiar curriculum of poetry from the trenches to the 1930s-war poems, wiry without being hard-bitten; later lyrics of complete sanity, yet intense fancy; then a public rhetoric which seemed to me to command a tradition of English satirical writing more fully than the work of other, noisier poets of the day. And next, inexplicably, silence. It was chastening to find that such a poet had escaped the attention of the BBC for so long; with some sense of the urgency of the task, I invited Alan Young to prepare and present a programme in Radio 3's 'Living Poet' series.


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image