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This report is taken from PN Review 199, Volume 37 Number 5, May - June 2011.

on Roger Langley as a teacher
Roger Langley - An Appreciation
Charles Mundye
Since the publication of his Collected Poems in 2000 Roger Langley's position as a poet of significant stature has been consolidated and documented, but his career as a teacher should also not go unremarked. I first met Roger Langley in 1985. I had just started my A-level studies at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield, and Roger, then Head of English, was running after-school sessions for anyone who wanted to think seriously about literature outside of the constraints of the curriculum. I went along, with a group of seven or eight others, and we started with this: 'What does not change / is the will to change'. The first text I studied as a sixth-former was Olson's 'The Kingfishers'. Langley took us through a vortex of the unfamiliar and (to us) new: the Aztecs, Mao, Pound, Heraclitus, Rimbaud, the problematic concept of civilisation, composition by field. We continued into Olson's prose, The Maximus Poems, Ed Dorn, and Robert Creeley. I started to get it. Here was someone who wasn't disconnected from the substance of his teaching. It mattered, and it was obvious that it was of direct relevance to the way he thought about the world and his place within it. By the time we reached Eliot's The Waste Land several weeks later it felt rather classical and fusty to our newly minted avant-garde sensibilities. We covered William Carlos Williams, more Pound ('this is why Pound is the centre of my universe'. How can a poet be that? What is ...


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