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New Lines

New Lines, The New Poetry, Mavericks, New Lines 2

movement contributors poets conquest

an anthology of verse by the poets central to the Movement, published in 1956 under the editorship of Robert Conquest, who supplied eight poems. The other contributors were Kingsley Amis, Donald Davie, D. J. Enright, Thom Gunn, John Holloway (1920), Elizabeth Jennings, Philip Larkin, and John Wain. With clear reference to the poets of the New Apocalypse, Conquest's introduction dismissed much of the poetry of the 1940s as ‘diffuse and sentimental verbiage or hollow technical pirouettes’; claims that his contributors' work displayed a ‘certain unity of approach’ in its formal regularity and straightforwardness were borne out by the pervasive technical accomplishment and characteristic tone of sceptically intelligent informality. While New Lines found favour with the majority of the critics, Charles Tomlinson reviewed it in terms of its ‘suburban mental ratio’ and ‘lack of real poetic talent and ambition’. Al Alvarez echoed these remarks by stating that ‘gentility … reigns supreme’ in the verse of the Movement in his introduction to The New Poetry (1963), which espoused more vigorous modes. New Lines rapidly established its contributors as representatives of an enduringly dominant tendency and provoked an early reaction in the form of Mavericks (1957), an anthology edited by Dannie Abse and Howard Sergeant, whose introduction enumerated the Movement's limitations. Although Conquest subsequently produced New Lines 2 (1963), the original group of poets took no pains to sustain a corporate identity. (See also anthologies).

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