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Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne

7 September 2000
Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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Triodes 
by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... literary culture to sustain it – particularly in the 1970s and 1980s (a period Robert Sheppard has called the ‘utopia of dissent’), when Basil Bunting was president of the Poetry Society and EricMottram was editing Poetry Review. Certain key figures emerge as influences or promoters, but the tradition ... is long, dissenting and largely disregarded if not indeed suppressed. Its history has ...

Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne

17 May 1984
Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... Lovesey, Nicholas Freeling, Simenon, Chandler and the husband-and-wife team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. Only one of the essays seems really ambitious, and the effect, I’m afraid, is comic. EricMottram – an otherwise much respected old friend of mine – gets into full academic scuba-diving gear to paddle in the shallows of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer tales. Borges, Barthes, Lacan, Lé ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay

4 December 2014
Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... Briggflatts in 1965 (published by Stuart Montgomery’s Fulcrum Press); Prynne’s Kitchen Poems (1968) was exciting readers in the CB2 postcode; the TLS was publishing concrete poems; and in 1971 EricMottram would begin his influential tenure at Poetry Review. But it wasn’t to last. ‘The present order is the disorder of the future,’ it says on the rocks of Little Sparta, though sometimes ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford

20 April 1989
Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... poem about someone who is seen as an old bag. If only all the poems in The New British Poetry were as good. The truth is that the book is from the beginning uneven and it gets worse as it goes along. EricMottram’s flak-jacketed selection in Section Three, ‘A Treacherous Assault on British Poetry’ is really (as his introduction makes clear) an attempt to fight again the battle he lost when he ...

Vehicles of Dissatisfaction

Jonathan Dollimore: Men and Motors

24 July 2003
Autopia: Cars and Culture 
edited by Peter Wollen and Joe Kerr.
Reaktion, 400 pp., £25, November 2002, 1 86189 132 6
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... lose control and end up dead, mutilated or crippled. And yet it’s one of the most fanatically pursued of all sports: at an amateur level, enthusiasts spend everything they have on it, and more. EricMottram describes James Dean’s obsession with racing as a morbid complement to his other strange ways – Kenneth Anger described him as a ‘human ashtray’ in his sexual proclivities. Steve ...
28 September 1989
The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... Dean Farrar, the theologian and Harrow schoolmaster who in 1858 brought out the best-seller Eric, or Little by Little, later produced the almost equally popular St Winifred’s, or The World of School. There are a surprising number of novels, mainly but not all English ones, which could use the ...

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