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Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry [Paperback]

W. N. Herbert , Matthew Hollis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Oct 2000
Poetry has never been so rigorous and diverse, nor has its audience been so numerous and engaged. Strong words? Not if the poets are right. As Ezra Pound wrote: 'You would think anyone wanting to know about poetry would go to someone who knew something about it.' That's exactly what Bloodaxe has done with this judicious and comprehensive selection of British, Irish and American manifestos by some of modern poetry's finest practitioners.

Opening the 20th century account with Ezra Pound, W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot, the book moves through key later figures including W.H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Stevie Smith and Dylan Thomas. America is richly represented too, from Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams to the influential New England poets Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath.

Strong Words then brings the issues fully up to date with over 30 specially commissioned statements from contemporary writers including Seamus Heaney, Andrew Motion, Simon Armitage, Selima Hill, Paul Muldoon and Douglas Dunn, amounting to a new overview of the poetry being written at the start of the 21st century.

For poets and readers, for critics, teachers and students of creative writing and contemporary poetry, this is essential reading. As well as representing many of the most important poets of the last hundred years, Strong Words charts many different stances and movements, from Modernism to Postmodernism, from Futurism to the future theories of poetry. This landmark book champions the continuing dialogue of these voices, past and present, exploring the strongest form that words can take: the poem.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd (9 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852245158
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852245153
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.9 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961, and educated there and at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he published his thesis on the Scots poet Hugh MacDiarmid (To Circumjack MacDiarmid, OUP, 1992). He has published seven volumes of poetry and four pamphlets, and he is widely anthologised.

His last five collections, all with the northern publisher Bloodaxe, have won numerous accolades. Forked Tongue (1994) was selected for the New Generation promotion, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and was shortlisted for the T.S.Eliot and Saltire prizes. Cabaret McGonagall (1996) was shortlisted for the Forward and McVities prizes; and The Laurelude (1998), written whilst he was the first Wordsworth Fellow at Grasmere, was a PBS Recommendation. All three books won Scottish Arts Council book awards. The Big Bumper Book of Troy (2002) was longlisted for Scottish Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Saltire Prize. His most recent Bloodaxe collection, Bad Shaman Blues (2006), was a PBS Recommendation, and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot and Saltire prizes.

After holding several Scottish residencies he moved to Newcastle in 1994 to take up what was then the Northern Arts Literary Fellowship, and has remained there ever since, holding residencies with Cumbria Arts in Education and the Wordsworth Trust. He taught in the Department of Creative Writing at Lancaster University (1996-2002), and is currently Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

He has engaged in numerous public art and cross-media projects in the North-East and Borders, making a film in Berwick, originating sculptures and stained glass pieces in Ambleside, Dumfries, Sunderland and North Tyneside, and wrote a poem for a strip of stainless steel set into the pavement in Graingertown, Newcastle. He has produced libretti for the composers Keith Morris, Naomi Pinnock and Evangelia Rigaki. He edited the interactive CD-ROM Book of the North (NWN, 2000), featuring prominent writers and artists from the region. Since 2001 he has been the lead poet for the award-winning Westpark development in Darlington, a text-led public art project.

He was co-editor with Richard Price of the Scottish cultural magazine Gairfish (1989-1994), culminating in the anthology Contraflow on the Superhighway: an Informationist Primer (Gairfish/Southfields, 1994). In 2000 he edited the bestselling anthology Strong Words: modern poets on modern poetry with Matthew Hollis. In 2006 he contributed the poetry section to Creative Writing: A Workbook (Open University/Routledge), which appeared from Routledge as a separate volume, Writing Poetry, in 2010.

In 2007 he edited an anthology of translations from contemporary Bulgarian poetry and original poetry by the translators called A Balkan Exchange (Arc); and with Martin Orwin he translated the Somali poet Gaarriye for the Poetry Translation Centre, published as a pamphlet by Enitharmon in 2008.

His latest creative publication is Three Men on the Metro, a collaborative volume of verse about the Moscow Metro written with Andy Croft and Paul Summers (Five Leaves Press, 2009). He is currently working with the prominent Chinese poet, Yang Lian, and the translator Brian Holton, on Jade Ladder, a book of translations from contemporary Chinese poetry.

He lives in an old lighthouse in North Shields with the novelist Debbie Taylor, and their daughter Izzie.

Product Description

Review

'as good a Bible as any.’ -- Poetry Review

‘an erudite and sophisticated book, a mosaic of the 20th century’s stylistic variety and formal ingenuity' -- Scotland on Sunday

‘indispensible’ -- Financial Times

‘one turns to verse after reading Strong Words with new energy, inspiration and insight.’ -- Times Literary Supplement

‘utterly compelling . . . Strong Words brings together a diverse collection of essential commentaries in a single volume.’ --BBC Radio 3

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I have an old dog-eared copy of James Scully's 'Modern Poets on Modern Poetry' to which I have returned continuously over the years, as a dog to its bowl. But where Scully left off - with Charles Olson, Strong Words is just beginning. Not only does it add fifty badly needed years to this anthology of prose writings on poetry, but it also takes the brave, challenging step of mixing existing work with pieces commissioned from some of the finest contemporary writers - what the editors describe as 'the explicit manifesto and the unguarded moment.' Editors Herbert and Hollis are themselves poets of some considerable repute and though I would have liked to have seen a more even balance between American and Commonwealth writers, their selection is entertaining, illuminating and at times provocative. This anthology is full of gems for the aspiring writer and the informed reader, from the old chestnut of Pound's Imagist manifesto to pieces which themselves slip over into poetry - Don Paterson's wonderfully succinct and absorbing Aphorisms are a good example. Whether you are interested in poetry, teach poetry or write poetry, this book should be an essential part of your toolkit. There really is something in here for everyone.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry 27 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
The book arrived promptly. It was in beautiful condition and more than exceeded my expectations. A whole beautiful collection of essays on poetry by its practitioners. An invaluable tool for all poetry loves. I highly recommend.
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