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Georgian Poetry, Wheels, Selections from Modern Poets, An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology, Active Anthology, New Signatures, New Country

poetry edited book anthology

many anthologies of poetry defining the aesthetic or ideological standpoints of successive schools or movements have appeared in the twentieth century. Georgian Poetry (191222) disseminated new work by young poets with the intention of revitalizing verse at a time when late Victorian reputations remained predominant. The Georgians, however, were identified with a moribund literary tradition by the Imagists (see Imagism), whose first anthology in 1914 formally inaugurated poetic Modernism. Antagonism towards the Georgians was also expressed by the Sitwells in annual editions of Wheels (191621), while Sir J. C. Squire's Selections from Modern Poets (192134) defended the conservative position. Subsequent anthologies with an emphasis on innovation include Louis Zukofsky's An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology (1932; see Objectivist Poetry) and Ezra Pound's Active Anthology (1933). Michael Roberts's New Signatures (1932) and New Country (1933) announced the political orientation of poetry in the 1930s and featured work by most of the decade's best-known British poets. Roberts also edited The Faber Book of Modern Verse (1936), which introduced many of the century's most notable poets to a general readership. J. F. Hendry's The New Apocalypse (1939) named a movement which repudiated the rationalism they saw as dominating the poetry of the day; two further anthologies maintained their ascendancy throughout the 1940s. Reaction against the extravagant romanticism of the New Apocalypse was signalled by Robert Conquest's New Lines (1956), arguably the last of the pervasively influential anthologies, from which the Movement emerged as a new poetic orthodoxy. Al Alvarez's The New Poetry (1962, revised 1966), which contested the claims of New Lines, and A Group Anthology (1963), edited by Philip Hobsbaum and Edward Lucie-Smith, both featured numerous noteworthy members of the Group. The pluralism which increasingly characterized poetry in English from the 1960s diminished the anthology's former importance as a means of asserting the centrality of particular movements. Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion, editors of The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (1982), discreetly promoted Martian poetry; A Various Art (1987), edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville, strongly espoused the work of seventeen poets chiefly associated with the British small presses. There have also been many collections representing the poetry of regions and countries whose literatures are substantially in English, the following being notable among them: Modern Scottish Poetry (1986), edited by Maurice Lindsay; The Bright Field: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry from Wales (1991), edited by Meic Stephens; The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (1986), edited by Paul Muldoon; The Heinemann Book of African Poetry in English (1990), edited by Adewale Maja-Pearce; The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1985), edited by Helen Vendler; The Penguin Book of Caribbean Verse in English (1986), edited by Paula Burnett; and The Golden Apples of the Sun: Twentieth Century Australian Poetry (1980), edited by Chris Wallace-Crabbe. The impact of feminism and revised attitudes to homosexuality during the 1980s were reflected in numerous anthologies, including The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Women Poets (1985), edited by Jeni Couzyn, and Naming the Waves: Contemporary Lesbian Poetry (1988), edited by Christian McEwen. Anthologies have been devoted to an extraordinary range of subjects and themes, love and war having been given recurrent attention; The Penguin Book of Love Poetry (1974) and The Oxford Book of War Poetry (1984), both edited by Jon Stallworthy, are well-known examples.

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