on 30 July 2013
I agree with the previous reviewers that this new, generous taxonomy of poetry is helpful and yes, it gave me some new insights into some poets.
I am often asked to recommend books that help the intelligent, curious but all-too-often alienated would-be reader of contemporary poetry find a way in. I think this is a book for the already converted and the emphasis on the technical aspects of poetry may not be especially welcoming. I would still recommend the Staying Alive books with their useful chapter introductions and biographical notes. I suppose there's a difference between this book - what poetry 'is' and those which address the question of what poetry is 'for'. Perhaps that's exemplified by the way in which Don Paterson gets most citations in the index and Charles Causley, none.
With that caveat, I'd still recommend this as a useful survey and reference.
on 21 December 2012
This is a generously intelligent survey of what is happening in British poetry now - the best currently available. Leaving behind the tired old oppositions, Sampson groups the poets into a series of new categories, some of them surprising and provocative. Throughout the book, the sharpness and originality of her comments made me think hard, prompting me to go to the poems to find out what I thought - a great pleasure.