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This interview is taken from PN Review 137, Volume 27 Number 3, January - February 2001.

in conversation with Brian Jones Paul McLoughlin

Brian Jones born in 1938, took his degree in English at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he was an Exhibitioner, having attended Ealing Grammar School. He moved to Canterbury in 1964 and spent his professional life in Adult Education. He now lives in France with his wife, Noelle. Poems (London Magazine Editions 1966) was met with an unusual degree of interest for a first collection. Since then Jones has published nine further volumes, including four more with Alan Ross and three with Carcanet, the most recent being Freeborn John (1990).

PAUL McLOUGHLIN: Did you enjoy your time at Cambridge?

BRIAN JONES: No, I didn't enjoy my time at Cambridge, but I was there when Leavis was there, and I have very powerful and important memories of being with Leavis during his lectures and seeing how he worked through a poem. I found his scrupulousness extraordinary. Most of the time, I felt a sense of alienation, of not being there and needed someone to say to me, "Who are you? Talk about yourself." But this was not allowed. It was only the text, the words on the page that mattered, so the discipline of English Literature at Cambridge reinforced the sense I had of something buried or withheld. It was only when I was watching Leavis wandering around on a platform mumbling to himself that I was aware of another human being struggling with what was difficult and trying to articulate it. He wasn't at ...


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