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This report is taken from PN Review 209, Volume 39 Number 3, January - February 2013.

One More Essay for Martin Neil Powell
I can put an almost exact date to this: it's the first week of October 1968. There's an English Department party in one of the function rooms on the top floor of the 'Social Building' at Rootes Hall; I'm there, an undergraduate starting my final year, but with added bumptiousness as editor of the university's literary magazine. I've also just decided, without much idea of what this might entail, that it would be good to stay on and do a higher degree: a possible thesis title, 'Tradition and Structure in Contemporary Poetry', is already in my head. This uninteresting information I find myself sharing (what else are departmental parties for?) with a man who's just come from York to work on his PhD here at Warwick. It turns out that he's an early nineteenth-century scholar; so, having remarked that it's 'not my period', a phrase which can't be uttered without a hint of pitying contempt, he adds that I should talk to a friend of his, until recently a postgraduate at York, who's just taken up a lectureship in the department. This friend's name is Martin Wright. He's not at the party - still busy moving in - but he's sure to be in his office tomorrow.

The following afternoon, in the fifth-floor concrete warren above the library which was the English Department's temporary home (for this was still a very new university), I knocked on Martin's door. The man who opened it was young, shortish, bespectacled, with an ...


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