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.

George Barker at Seventy David Gascoyne

TOWARDS the end of a poem that George Barker wrote as a 'nosegay' for my sixty-fifth birthday [1981] occurs the line: 'and now, I think, you know that all thought is illusion'. If I properly understand these words, I believe they are true. When Robert Fraser wrote asking me to contribute to this Barker supplement of PN Review, he suggested that I discuss the significance I feel Barker's presence has had for my own work and for my generation; later in his letter he referred to a derogatory reference I once made, in my 'intimate' Journal for 1938, to an essay by Barker that had just appeared in The Criterion and to his then recent collection Calamiterror. I can disclaim as much competence as inclination to assess George Barker's poetry from an academically literary point of view. What I once thought of Calamiterror has no longer even marginal relevance. I was then only twenty-one and predictably brash, reacting, I hope without jealousy, to what at that time struck me as George's tendency towards a type of poetic rhetoric that ran counter to, or provided a substitute for, the kind of thought that - as he rightly wrote in that 'nosegay' -I now realise to be in a sense an illusion.

I can truthfully say that never, since the appearance of Thirty Preliminary Poems in 1933, have I been consciously influenced in my own writing by Barker's poetry, though I have constantly felt that, though what I was ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image