Kenneth White

Notes from an Outpost

Kenneth White, 6 July 1989

I am just back at my home in Brittany after a week’s moving round Britain doing talks and readings on the occasion of my return to English-language publishing after twenty years’ absence. Before going further into this return, which I do not see as any kind of ‘come-back’, but as a new departure, maybe I should lay out the reasons for that long absence and silence in the English-language field. My first books came out in London (from Cape) in 1966: Letters from Gourgounel (prose) and The Cold Wind of Dawn (poems). A year after the reviews appeared, I had left Britain, and entered into a nine years’ silence (full of work) in the Pyrenees. If my third manuscript had just got through (a book of poems, The Most Difficult Area, no doubt considered as fringe-work, came out in 1968), my fourth, a prose book, even more difficult to classify than the Letters, had met up with a lot of resistance.

It is no part of my practice to react to reviews – one has better things to do. Reviewers, like everybody else, have a right to their opinions. And, in a journal such as yours, readers can be trusted to evaluate for themselves tone and logic, and, eventually, verify, text in hand. It is only when, as in the case of David Craig’s review of two of my books, The Bird Path (collected longer poems)...


David Craig, 6 July 1989

Scottish nationhood never quite dies but hibernates, latent in all those millions of people and thousands of texts, ready to be potentiated by various events, some more accountable or predictable...

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