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This article is taken from PN Review 14, Volume 6 Number 6, July - August 1980.

Dannie Abse

It was while editing Mavericks in 1956 with Howard Sergeant that I first read David Wright's poems with more than ordinary attention. I admired, in particular, his second book of poems, Moral Stories, which had been published two years previously, as well as the current poems he was then writing, such as "Monologue of a Deaf Man", which I encountered in magazines or in manuscript. To understand why I responded so acutely to some of David Wright's poems at that time it is perhaps necessary to say briefly something about the anthology Mavericks and the critical and biographical reasons for its coming into existence.

The poems published and acclaimed in such journals as The Spectator in the mid-Fifties had a certain commonality of style and tone: a reticent, small-gestured, plain diction, a paraphrasable content, a visible, often symmetrical structure-the poems by those, among many others, later designated as The Movement. Poets ostentatiously not conforming to such a strategy of writing, who reached for more, were pejoratively labelled "romantic" or "pretentious". I think Howard Sergeant felt some sort of mild conspiracy was going on and that the widely publicized advancement of The Movement was a PRO job. He argued that while some of the Movement poets were indisputably gifted others, outside the fashionable poetry circuits, also talented, were being neglected.

I agreed with him and suggested we co-edit an anthology to be entitled Mavericks. (I had recently used the word "mavericks" in a poem. It meant ...


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