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Customer Review

on 2 November 2011
You can't tell from the picture, but this is a bumper book - a massive treasury, cleanly presented, which tells you more about what's really happening in British poetry than the last half decade of TS Eliot awards, Forward prizes and Guardian Saturday poems. Lumsden and Stonborough have plugged into an abundant vein of energy, ingenuity and optimism that should make even the most cynical person excited about the future of poetry in this country.

Really, honestly, you should leave preconceived notions of what 'youthful' poetry means at the door. The poems here are neither part of a self-conscious, intellectually contrived 'movement' conceived in a university pub, nor post-adolescent lovelorn wailings. Rather, the range of techniques, influences and stylistic choices on display speak of a deference to many strong traditions, new and old, in British poetry, married to a restlesssness and compulsion to strike out in new directions. Conversely, there's no sense whatsoever of arrogance or entitlement or privileged chummery. If you're the kind of person whose mind is blown, your mind will be blown. If, like me, you tend to appreciate things more soberly and quietly, and with some initial reluctance, you'll still come round fairly quickly to just how good some of these poems are, and go on slowly discovering more to admire for weeks, or even months.

If you still have your doubts, at least try to read Stonborough's introduction, which meets most imaginable misgivings head-on and, at the very least, gives them a run for their money.

There are possible reasons, I suppose, to not get hold of a copy - if you find an abundance of young, engaged and talented people intimidating, it's sometimes a struggle to get through more than a couple of pages without turning to drink. Equally, if you're terrified of accidentally fancying someone much younger than you, be warned - there are photographs.
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