Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Some Missing Poets

Ron Silliman's blog is remarkably good. He just turned me on to the Eclipse archive, and for a lark I clicked on the archive label to see what I'd missed. Through this, I found two sites offering competing versions of UK poetry. Silliman compares as follows:
Archive of the Now is, on day one, the most significant new site for poetry I’ve seen in well over a year. It is a perfect complement to the Archive of the Then, Andrew Motion’s slick gathering of so much that is kitsch, the Bathos of Britain into which he & his colleagues have dropped a few token gems to dress the dross, with its megalomaniacal “world's premier online collection” claim on its home page.
Let me note that neither site contains anything by Basil Bunting, Austin Clarke, or David Jones. None of these would reasonably be expected to appear in Archive of the Now. But the Poetry Archive (Motion's site) should have all of them. Indefensible.

I've long thought that these three poets had a lot in common. A few commonalities:
  1. They were all interested in carrying on Modernist projects in contexts hostile to Modernist poetics.
  2. They were all interested in alternative prosodies that drew from minority traditions in English. Clark and Bunting, for example, were both interested in schemes
    of assonance prevalent in earlier poetries. (And not in the
    decorative way such prosodies were exploited by Auden.)
  3. All operated on the margins of publishing, and all shunned traditional career paths.
  4. All, but especially Bunting and Clarke, had publishing histories marked by extended silences (much like George Oppen in the US.)
There's a whole book to be written about these three. By someone with more time than I have.

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