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This article is taken from PN Review 201, Volume 38 Number 1, September - October 2011.

Romantic Agoraphobia: The Poetry of Brian Jones Paul McLoughlin
For the tenth anniversary issue of the Review (Spring/Summer 1972), Ian Hamilton invited poets and critics to look back on the preceding ten years and comment on the state of poetry as they saw it. In his contribution to the resulting Poetry Symposium, John Carey cited Brian Jones as the most exciting new poet, besides Heaney, to have emerged during that period. By then, Jones had published three collections with Alan Ross's London Magazine Editions, the second of which, A Family Album (1968), had been one of Stephen Spender's Books of the Year. Reception for all three had been for the most part enthusiastic, and even the guarded found much to admire.Poems (1966) went into three impressions in six weeks, selling over a thousand copies and prompting interest from the national press - Jones was the subject of a news article in the pre-tabloid Sun, for example. A fourth and final collection with Alan Ross (For Mad Mary, 1974) was followed by three with Carcanet between 1980 and 1990. Both For Mad Mary and The Children of Separation (1985) were Poetry Book Society recommendations.

And yet when, in 1986, Oxford University's John Sheeran, a fan of both football and poetry, compiled a 'British and Irish Poetry Rankings', set out in four divisions like the Football League of its day, Jones was nowhere to be found. Poets can lose their way, of course, but the attention Jones attracted early on (including a number of television appearances) invites us to question ...


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