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The Wide Summer Shelf 2018 — the introduction to a three-part series of reviews.

Poetry from the centre and periphery.


barbed rule

By Peter Riley.

barbed rule

New poetry Summer 2018
Reviewed, noted or just listed.
In these three parts.


‘Safe hands’ — Carol Rumens and Judith Willson

Poetry restrained and risky: Hamilton, Strang, Capildeo and Lehane

Pursuing Atrocity on the Periphery and Beyond:
Ely, Semmens, Houen, Russell, Rowland and others.

The “centre” is a more or less agreed zone which corresponds to the nature of the most widely read and appreciated poetry. It is more-or-less what goes on or what is expected of poetry. The periphery includes all modes of poetry which are manifestly different, such as most of the “experimental” or “innovative”, that which insists on separating itself, but other things too. The centre is not the “mainstream” and is not involved in the rituals of binary opposition which use of that word engenders. It is to avoid that wearisome and irritating conflict that I’ve adopted the circular model. Some critics (such as Don Paterson) think that the centre of this centre is the only place where anything faintly worth knowing about can happen, and is equivalent to the natural whole. But the centre claims no priority or authority and its definition is geometrical, without reference to the political centre. A lot of the comment on new books below hopes to show that while the centre maintains a certain stability in a continuity with ancestral poetry, it can also be unstable, and offers a great variety of possibilities to the practitioner, and there is no wall round it. In fact its edge is permeable. It is my controversial contention that most of what is known as “modernism” (English or American brands) belongs in this central space, or rather most of its poems, for it is a home for poems rather than for poets.—PR

Fortnightly ReviewsPeter Riley, the poetry editor of The Fortnightly Review‘s New Series, is a former editor of Collection, and the author of fifteen books of poetry (including The Glacial Stairway [Carcanet, 2011]) – and some of prose. He lives in Yorkshire and is the recipient of a 2012 Cholmondeley Award for poetry.

Peter Riley’s latest books are Pennine Tales and Hushings (both from Calder Valley Poetry) and Dawn Songs (Shearsman, 2017). His Due North (Shearsman), a book-length poem, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, 2015. A collection of his ‘Poetry Notes’ columns has been collected in The Fortnightly Reviews: Poetry Notes 2012-2014, and published in 2015 by Odd Volumes, our imprint. An archive of his Fortnightly columns is here.

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