on 19 November 2000
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.