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Jon Silkin Biography

(1930–1997), Stand, The Peaceable Kingdom, The Re-Ordering of the Stones, Nature with Man

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland

British poet, editor, and critic, born in London, educated at Dulwich College. In 1952 he founded Stand, the literary magazine he has continued to edit with his wife Lorna Tracy. He has held a succession of posts as a writer-in-residence at universities in Britain, Israel, and the USA. His numerous collections of poetry include The Peaceable Kingdom (1954), The Re-Ordering of the Stones (1961), Nature with Man (1965), The Principle of Water (1974), The Psalms with Their Spoils (1980), The Ship's Pasture (1986), Selected Poems (1988; revised 1993), and The Lens-Breakers (1992). Stylistically, his verse ranges from an unambiguous directness of statement to cryptically compressed experimental forms. His concerns are primarily ethical and humanitarian. Many of his finest poems form dramatic monologues spoken by victims of historical events; ‘The People’, a long blank-verse sequence, is notable for the detached compassion and imaginative sensitivity of its detailed account of the Nazi concentration camps. Among his critical writings is Out of Battle: Poetry of the Great War (1972). He has edited numerous anthologies, including Poetry of the Committed Individual (1973) and The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (1979).

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