New Signatures, New Verse, Blast
a periodical described by Ian Hamilton as ‘the toughest and most entertaining of all the little magazines’; it was founded in 1933 by Geoffrey Grigson, who remained editor until 1939. Grigson's enthusiasm for the work of W. H. Auden and his fellow poets of the early 1930s, to whom Michael Roberts's New Signatures anthology of 1932 had given a corporate identity, motivated him to establish New Verse; from 1933 to 1937 it was the only periodical devoted exclusively to the interests of poetry. Wyndham Lewis's Blast was greatly admired by Grigson, who strove to emulate its uncompromising tone in his editorial denunciations of ‘Pure Poetryism’; the political and academic positions exemplified respectively by Roberts and F. R. Leavis were both repudiated by Grigson, who fiercely maintained his belief in the assessment of poetry in terms of its relation to objective reality. By 1934 New Verse had gained a reputation for vitriolic criticism (mostly composed by Grigson). Edith Sitwell, dubbed ‘the old Jane’, Laura Riding, and Robert Graves were among the writers upon whom memorable attacks were launched; poets closely associated with the magazine were not spared its intelligent ridicule when their work failed to meet Grigson's exacting standards. Between 1934 and 1936 New Verse was actively interested in surrealism, featuring poetry by David Gascoyne, Philip O'Connor, Paul Eluard, and Hans Arp; it had rejected the movement by 1937, when the poetic implications of Mass Observation became its specialization. Auden was the poet most frequently published in New Verse, a double issue in 1937 being devoted to celebrating his thirtieth birthday; Dylan Thomas, Gavin Ewart, Norman Cameron, and Charles Madge also contributed repeatedly. The magazine's energies began to diminish in 1938 and it was discontinued in 1939.