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This item is taken from PN Review 36, Volume 10 Number 4, March - April 1984.

READERS of PN Review are divided between those who believe we publish too little poetry, and those who insist that we publish too much. PNR 36 is given over entirely to an anthology of contemporary British and Irish writing, some of it new, much of it previously published in books and periodicals. I have included work by writers who emerged or notably matured over the last ten years or so-during the life of PNR, in fact. It is an attempt to describe the contemporary work that most engages us-that most engages me, I should say. My fellow editors would doubtless have made different and probably shorter work of it.

I want this to be a catholic corrective to those anthologies that insist on the primacy of particular schools and discern new beginnings in the redeployment of old tropes and techniques. At the same time, I hope to show that a catholic anthology can quite strenuously avoid the mandatory eclecticism so common since the 1960s in education, broadcasting and publishing.

But how is one to anthologise one's contemporaries? Who are they? How long is a generation? None of the poems here is as old as I am. Time has not even begun its culling. On the most recent, the ink is hardly dry; others will be revised and rewritten. But the versions printed are asked to stand on their own and to stand for wider bodies of work. How is the editor to be fair to the work of poets he judges to be good but does not like? In selecting from among one's contemporaries, it is especially difficult to avoid polemic of some kind, if not in the introduction, then in the selection. Better confine it to the selection, then: better that the reader should read the poems rather than read about them. I only wish to insist that this anthology is not intended for those looking for schools, movements or groups, but for those keen to read a range of contemporary poetry. It assumes a prior interest. Whatever they may do, the poems here are not pretending to be anything other than poems. The austere presentation of the work is frank on this score. Originally I intended to provide introductions and annotations to each poet, as in my anthology Eleven British Poets (Methuen, 1980). On reflection, I decided to dispense with all but the barest biographical and bibliographical indications, reverting to the New Critical heresy in which I was reared: that the poem, if good, can pull its weight without a team of footnotes, and that the attentive reader does not require direction.

This item is taken from PN Review 36, Volume 10 Number 4, March - April 1984.

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