PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
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)
Next Issue Jen Schmitt on Ekphrasis Rachel Hadas on Text and Pandemic Kirsty Gunn Essaying two Jee Leong Koh Palinodes in the Voice of my Dead Father Maureen Mclane Correspondent Breeze
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This article is taken from PN Review 31, Volume 9 Number 5, May - June 1983.

A Miss is as good as... Hugh Maxton

Congratulations to George Barker on his seventieth birthday

A poet who reaches the Biblical span without being absorbed, taken-over, or simply bought is earnestly to be congratulated, admired, and envied. George Barker is such an independent figure in whose work eloquence and silence alike have been rich in integrity, passion, and truth. The True Confession of George Barker is the title of his work in its entirety.

In 1966 when 'Goodman Jacksin and the Angel' was published by Penguin Books in David Wright's Longer Contemporary Poems I was working in a Dublin bookshop which wrongly believed itself to be the standard-bearer of culture in the city. The poetry section was in the basement, between the toilets and the order-department, sharing space with the children's books and yachting. Its shelves changed more slowly than the seasons, but one item which required regular replacement over the months was Barker's Collected Poems. To the left Auden bulked large, and further down the alphabet irregular-sized Pounds sullenly endured their captivity. Successive allegedly complete editions of Graves accumulated in a veritable necropolis. Upstairs there was a prestigious Irish section-between tourism and the antiquarian department. It had its poetry shelves also, and in addition to the austere bindings of Yeats there was an opportunist crowd of Day Lewises, Durrells and others, all declaring themselves advantageously Irish and willing to be bought, binding and soul. The Brontes at times lodged there: Che Guevara Lynch was expected daily.

I confess that, ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image