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This article is taken from PN Review 217, Volume 40 Number 5, May - June 2014.

Introduction Henry King
In 2014, his centennial year, C.H. Sisson is at a difficult juncture. When a poet dies, there is likely to be a flurry of renewed interest in their work, often followed (unless they achieved universal fame – a Ted Hughes or a Seamus Heaney) by a period of neglect. The question is whether they can emerge from this eclipse into the posthumous existence of critical discussion, and more importantly, continuing influence.

‘C.H. Sisson at 100’ aims to further this re-emergence. It is not the first gathering of essays on Sisson’s work since his death in 2003: in 2010, Agenda published a special issue edited by his grandson, Charlie Louth.1 (Thanks are due to Charlie, and Sisson’s daughters Janet and Hilary, for allowing the publication of the two poems featured here.) The issue collected critical engagements with his poetry, prose and translations, as well as more personal reflections by old friends. Several of the latter, including Michael Schmidt, Clive Wilmer and Robert Wells, also contributed to a previous PN Review special (PNR 39, ‘C.H. Sisson at 70’). More recently, Natalie Pollard (in Speaking to You: Contemporary Poetry and Public Address) has discussed – not uncritically – the ways in which Sisson’s ‘lyric voicing of you (like Marvell’s) is bound up in questioning the language in which affairs of state are conducted, continued, and disrupted, and in probing poetry’s capacity to achieve a measure of verity in forging links between history and art, past and present voicings’.2 And later this year, Carcanet will publish a C.H. Sisson Reader, edited by Charlie ...


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