Contemporary British Poetry: Essays in Theory and Criticism

By James Acheson; Romana Huk | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Editing a book like Contemporary British Poetry: Essays in Theory and Criticism is a risky business, since the tradition behind it is replete with attempts at comprehensive mapping of named terrains.We were aware from the start that any full accounting for Britain's contemporary poetry scene would now be even less possible than it ever was, given how much has been happening in the very variegated field of these "poetries" and how little room we have between the covers of our collection.Competing with our desire to bring readers up to date with changes that have occurred over the last twenty years—changes that have received less attention than they deserve, particularly in literary circles outside the U.K.—was our desire to demonstrate some of the new ways that established figures more familiar to our audience are currently being (re)read; therefore, the book's time frame has also broadened beyond any possibility of inclusiveness, treating poems that range from, say, Donald Davie's or Ian Hamilton Finlay's work of the 1950s and 1960s to the new poems of Benjamin Zephaniah and Carol Ann Duffy.Yet we feel that the book's strengths lie not so much in its having drawn a tidy circle around its topic but rather in its forays into new textual territories, both poetic and critical; in other words, the widely ranging approaches taken by our essayists assume no set audience and contribute to no "evenness" of tone or theoretical/rhetorical register for the book as a whole.We felt that our topic demanded that we take the risk of substituting variety for conformity, due to the different readerships that these

-vii-

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