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This item is taken from PN Review 6, Volume 5 Number 2, January - March 1979.

Letters (Andrew Waterman, J.P. Ward, Robert Wells, Marcia Bridley, Brian Needham)

Might I correct an error, due to my imperfect proofreading, that appeared in my piece on Louis Simpson in PNR 4? On page 35, my article as printed reads:

. . . It can collapse into flaccid rumination, as in 'On the Lawn at the Villa': 'It's complicated, being an American,/ Having the money and the bad conscience, both at the same time.'

Perhaps, after all, this is not the right subject for a poem. `Perhaps, after all, this is not the right subject for a poem' is, in fact, a third line of quotation from Simpson's poem, not a rather crass sneer by myself: I shouldn't like, in any case, to be thought to suppose that any subject, as such, is the 'wrong' subject for a poem-it all depends on what the poem makes of it.

Yours, etc.
Coleraine, Co. Londonderry



We would be grateful for space to invite contributions from your readers for a future number of Poetry Wales.

The summer 1978 issue of Poetry Wales will be a Special Number on the Welsh Traditional Forms. Articles and features, and a selection of new poems in the strict forms in Welsh, will be included. But we are interested also in publishing a selection of poems which attempt to use the strict forms in English, or to use cynghanedd in other poems, and we invite the submission of any such work. The firm deadline is 1 March 1978; earlier would be appreciated.

It is well known that to greater or less extent Barnes, Hardy, Owen, Hopkins, Auden and Graves all experimented with the Welsh metres and cynghanedd in English. Perhaps others are doing so now, and we would like to hear from them.
Yours, etc.
Swansea, W. Glamorgan J. P. WARD-Editor
ALAN LLWYD-Welsh Language Editor



In a letter to PNR 5 John Matthias writes: 'On the Kaleidoscope programme devoted to poetry of 5 August 1977, I unfortunately implied a wholesale dislike of Peter Scupham's The Hinterland, a book which in fact I admire quite a lot.' It turns out that he did not express his admiration wholeheartedly because he was afraid that the others taking part in the discussion shared it. He did not wish his view to be identified with theirs.

I feel impatient with this shadow-boxing. Matthias has been misled by a fault which is common to reviewers. A book of Poems is identified with some supposed literary tendency or group, and is made the pretext for the taking up of positions. The poems are lost sight of, and the nature of the reference which they make-or try to make-to the world goes unexamined. In associating Scupham with 'a new (PNR oriented) formalism' Matthias makes the mistake of identification which he is afraid of in his own case.

I am wary also of that word 'formalism'. The tacking of 'ism' on to a word can simply be a sophisticated way of saying `socalled'-of casting aspersions without giving evidence. Matthias must mean a formality that is in some way false. I hope that he will write again to PNR, setting out his point of view more fully.
Yours, etc.



Isn't Donald Davie's 'monarchism', as expressed in the editorial to PNR 5, too poetic by half? Sentiment is no justification for political institutions: it may follow from an effective institution, but it strikes me as unhelpful to put mere sentiment in the place of political effectiveness. Professor Davie ought to identify the continuing constitutional role of the monarchy. His account would have been more credible had it involved a little analysis of what function the monarchy still performs in our political life. If the monarchy survives, it will do so as a political reality. It seems to me pernicious to introduce metaphysics into modern politics. A hortatory commendation of an institution can be damaging to us and to it. Shrouded in sentiment, the monarchy becomes merely an inert icon. It must be tested and proved in its constitutional context, and only then can we safely become dewy-eyed about it.
Yours, etc.



In the 'celebration' of Charles Tomlinson in PNR 5, Michael Schmidt tells us that the poet's work has never 'had its due' in England. I like some of Tomlinson's work and have done so for the last eighteen years. Seeing is Believing was printed here in 1960-when the poet was thirty-two-on the OUP list, surely one of the most prestigious lists to be on? The earlier book, The Necklace (1955), appeared when he was twenty-seven, and he himself rather dismisses it. Thirty-two isn't too late to begin getting your due. Published by OUP, championed down the years by Donald Davie and other British critics, highly regarded in America, he's hardly been neglected. Journalistic praise may not have been lavished on him, but he's never been denied serious attention. It is misleading to suggest that he has been ill-done-by.
Yours, etc.
King's Lynn

This item is taken from PN Review 6, Volume 5 Number 2, January - March 1979.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to
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