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Poetry wars - Peter Barry

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Poetry wars - British poetry of the 1970s and the battle of Earls Court
Peter Barry
Paperback / softback
UK Publication Date

Poetry Wars is an account of the six-year battle at the National Poetry Society during the 1970s when this highly conservative institution and its journal Poetry Review were taken over by radical poets. The story is told from primary sources, including the Arts Council's Records at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Eric Mottram Archive at King's College London, and the Barry MacSweeney Collection at Newcastle University, and from contemporary newspaper accounts.

The story has never been made public before in documentary detail, though brief reference is often made to it in accounts of contemporary poetry, and anecdotes and hearsay about these events have been in circulation for over twenty years. The repercussions continue to reverberate, and struggles of the same nature continue in the Poetry Society and other cultural institutions today. The question of how an avant-garde 'negotiates' with the 'centre' it seeks to displace remains crucial, and this issue is of increasing importance to the study of literature and the arts in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.

The book is in three sections: the first, 'Chronology' (chapters 1-5), tells the story of the events; the second, 'Themes' (chapters 6-9), considers the events from various thematic viewpoints, and includes a detailed chapter on the writing, teaching, and editing practice of Eric Mottram, and another on the characteristics of the 'British Poetry Revival' of the 1970s. The third section, 'Documents', reproduces a series of contemporary documents from the relevant archives, along with new summary data about the personalities involved.

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Peter Barry is Professor of English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He is Reviews & Poetry Editor of English (the journal of the English Association). In the 1970s he was a member of 'Alembic Poets' (with Ken Edwards and Robert Hampson), and his previous work on contemporary poetry includes New British Poetries: the Scope of the Possible (co-edited with Robert Hampson, 1993, Manchester U. P.) and Contemporary British Poetry and the City (2000, Manchester U.P.).

Keyword Index
English poetry - 20th century - History and criticism.
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