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This article is taken from PN Review 5, Volume 5 Number 1, October - December 1978.

Fifteen Ways of Looking at a Tomlinson (John Betjeman, George Oppen, Peter Levi, John Press, Vittori Sereni, Michael Kirkham, Donald Wesling, Ronald Hayman, Geoffrey Strickland, Frederick Busch, Michael Dibb, Alasdair Clayre, Ruth Grogan, Marjorie Perloff, John Berger)
I hold Charles Tomlinson's poetry in high regard. His is closely-wrought work, not a word wasted and he throws a light on the terrifying half-world of motorways and spaces between factories.
John Betjeman

Our language is our country Charles Tomlinson has said and said well, for it is he and Basil Bunting who have spoken most vividly to American poets.
George Oppen

* * * * *

PETER LEVI

Charles Tomlinson's poetry has an honesty of tone and a precision of detail which determine both its varied content and its searching rhythms, or so I conceive it. His poems have never been less than remarkable, sometimes austere and even gaunt, but sometimes flowering like a may-tree. His lessons are hard to learn, so that in spite of his undoubted mastery he has no obvious followers and belongs to no school. So much the better. He gives very great pleasure and yet his poetry is not seductive. I am forced to write this without books, and find to my surprise that many rhythms and phrases and a very exact sense of his style have built themselves into my mind. Admittedly I would not be able to quote a complete poem by heart, but I know other poets who could.

More than one poet in the past has expressed himself also in a style of life, in a house and its furnishings and surroundings. Cavafy's wicker furniture, Pope's grottoes, Keats's tiny ...


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