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This article is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

A Collection for Peter Riley Ian Brinton
I should like to begin with a quotation which will set the scene, and trust that this will prove to be in no way contentious:

For a time young poets of very different backgrounds and temperament may feel themselves, or be felt by critics, to be working along similar lines. Though its long-term consequence necessarily remains unclear, such a shift of sensibility has taken place very recently in British poetry. It follows a stretch, occupying much of the 1960s and 70s, when very little - in England at any rate - seemed to be happening...

The quotation comes of course from a very reliable source: a Poet Laureate, a highly successful journalist and a highly competitive and long-standing publishing firm: The Penguin Book of Contemporary Poetry, edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion. And so it's official: 'very little seemed to be happening' in the 60s and 70s, and this reminds me of the mischievous title of a splendid little journal founded by Anthony Barnett in 1966, Nothing Doing in London. There were only two issues of that beautifully produced item but they contained work by Andrew Crozier, Edmond Jabès, George Oppen, Tom Pickard, Samuel Beckett and Nick Totton: nothing indeed happening very much at all!

Having covered some ideas in PN Review 203 relating to Andrew Crozier's setting up of The English Intelligencer, I want to move forward to the next stage in a story of how 'very little seemed to be ...


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