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Peter Howarth: ‘A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry’

5 October 2016
Poetic Artifice: A Theory of 20th-Century Poetry 
by Veronica Forrest-Thomson, edited by Gareth Farmer.
Shearsman, 238 pp., £16.95, April 2016, 978 1 84861 445 1
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... The last sentence​ of Poetic Artifice reads: ‘But like all true artificers “I” remains enigmatical, presenting only the words on the page.’ VeronicaForrest-Thomson has been trying to rescue Sylvia Plath’s ‘Purdah’ from the critics who think the poem is a straightforward confession of her desire to avenge herself on Ted Hughes. ‘Why she should have ...

Palermo

Rebecca Tamás

11 October 2018
... You have burnt me too brown you must boil me again VeronicaForrest-Thomson     i kept having this hunch that pleasure was a philosophy    but i couldn’t explain it       peach juice   going down   my cheek   wet penis hovering over the blue dip of ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Eleanor Birne: The Reopening

22 March 2018
... A mile to the north of the gallery, the French-Tunisian artist eL Seed has painted a mural on a wall in Arbury Court, part of the Arbury Estate: it is inspired by Islamic art but uses the words of VeronicaForrest-Thomson. The work on show here has spread into the fabric of the city, as it was always meant to. Jim and Helen Ede left Kettle’s Yard in 1973. They retired to a flat in Edinburgh, taking ...

Watermonster Blues

William Wootten: Edwin Morgan

18 November 2004
Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity 
by Colin Nicholson.
Manchester, 216 pp., £40, October 2002, 0 7190 6360 4
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Beowulf 
translated by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 118 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 588 5
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Cathures 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 617 2
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... i     n           s         ion and i                           d     i e In his lecture, Morgan cites VeronicaForrest-Thomson as one of the precursors of the American Language School. Forrest-Thomson tried to mix literary theory with Wittgenstein and some of the poetics of J.H. Prynne. She died young, and her poetry ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison

3 March 1988
Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... that the three voices of the 16 in A Various Art to emerge most strongly have enjoyed critical sponsorship: Roy Fisher and J.H. Prynne in Donald Davie’s Thomas Hardy and British Poetry, the late VeronicaForrest-Thomson through her own theoretical book Poetic Artifice. In spurning both a polemical introduction and the biographical notes, this anthology may define itself against the run of post-war ...

The heart of standing is you cannot fly

Frank Kermode: Empson and Obscurity

22 June 2000
The Complete Poems of William Empson 
edited by John Haffenden.
Allen Lane, 410 pp., £30, April 2000, 0 7139 9287 5
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... of water, the clotting of blood, Lucifer, Jezebel, Jonah and much else. You need to know what words like ‘irrotational’ mean. There is a calmly elaborate and authoritative interpretation by VeronicaForrest-Thomson in an essay quoted by the assiduous Haffenden but worth reading through in the Yearbook of English Studies for 1974. It gives one some idea of what was going on in the poet’s head ...

In the Hothouse

Peter Howarth: Swinburne

8 November 2018
21st-Century Oxford Authors: Algernon Charles Swinburne 
edited by Francis O’Gorman.
Oxford, 722 pp., £95, December 2016, 978 0 19 967224 0
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... match, and none of them has to be: it is the touch of the love-words in the betrayal-words which creates the effect. Defending Swinburne against Eliot’s complaint that his vocabulary was imprecise, VeronicaForrest-Thomson remarked on his semantic ‘oscillations’, where the same word is introduced and then redefined several times within the same poem, without quite settling down in one context. This ...

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