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Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
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Next Issue Peter Scupham at 85: a celebration Contributions by Anne Stevenson, Robert Wells, Peter Davidson, Lawrence Sail
Welcome to PN Review, one of the outstanding literary magazines of our time.

'...probably the most informative and entertaining poetry journal in the English-speaking world.'
John Ashbery



Keep up with the many worlds of poetry in this independent and always stimulating journal. For four decades PN Review has been a place to discover new poems in English and in translation as well as interviews, news, essays, reviews and reports from around the world. Subscribers can explore the complete, uniquely rich digital archive.

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‘The most engaged, challenging and serious-minded of all the UK’s poetry magazines.’
Simon Armitage



Submissions to PN Review: Current subscribers may submit work by e-mail (word attachment). All other submissions should be made by post to: The Editors, PN Review, 4th Floor, Alliance House, 30 Cross Street, Manchester M2 7AQ, UK. Submissions should be accompanied by a self-addressed return envelope and should generally not exceed four poems/five pages.

PN Review 239
Featured Article
The Cult of the Noble Amateur Rebecca Watts WHY IS THE POETRY WORLD pretending that poetry is not an art form? I refer to the rise of a cohort of young female poets who are currently being lauded by the poetic establishment for their ‘honesty’ and ‘accessibility’ – buzzwords for the open denigration of intellectual engagement and rejection of craft that characterises their work.

The short answer is that artless poetry sells. In October 2016 The Bookseller reported the highest-ever annual sales of poetry books, ‘both in volume and value’. According to Penguin’s poetry editor, Donald Futers, this boom was due to the emergence of a ‘particularly energetic and innovative’ generation of young poets, who come to publishing with a significant and ‘seemingly atypical’ following. Figures released on National Poetry Day this year confirm this is no fad: sales are up by another fifteen percent in volume. In 2016 and 2017 the bestselling title, which has outstripped all others by a staggering margin, has been Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. Here is a typical poem from the book: ‘she was music / but he had his ears cut off’. Here is another:

i don’t know what living a balanced life feels like
when i am sad
i don’t cry, i pour
when i am happy
i don’t smile, i beam
when i am angry
i don’t yell, i burn
the good thing about
feeling in extremes
is when i love
i give them wings
but perhaps
that isn’t
such a good thing
cause they always
tend to leave and
you should see me
... read more
The Other Side of the Hedge
M. Wynn Thomas
Gwyn Griffiths and Meic Stephens, eds., The Old Red Tongue:
An Anthology of Welsh Literature (Francis Boutle Publishers), 999pp


IT IS ONE of the minor wonders (and to some one of the minor irritants) of the modern world that a ‘Wales’ exists – albeit perhaps as little more nowadays than as ‘England’s little butty’, as the cruelly perceptive Harri Webb put it. After all it was never meant to be like this. The Act of Union of England and Wales of 1536 – really a summary Act of Annexation and Incorporation – had deliberately set in train a process of steady assimilation by England that, from some contemporary perspectives, seems (despite the flummery of a carefully emasculated National Assembly) to have pretty well reached its conclusion. Yet this tiny mouse of a country, for so long the bedfellow of a (mostly amiable) ... read more
Letters
And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)
Mark Ford MIDWAY THROUGH HIS LONGEST POEM, Flow Chart of 1991, John Ashbery’s speaker jokingly looks forward to the day when his complete correspondence will be published on onionskin paper. It is my guess that, even if issued in thick books that make use of the very thinnest paper available, John’s own collected letters would run to dozens of volumes. Despite his frequent apologies for being late in replying to letters received and his equally frequent laments that he has nothing much to report, John was an indefatigable correspondent. This was especially the case during the years that he spent in France (1955–65), when he traded letters with New York-based friends such as Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, Fairfield Porter and Jane Freilicher.

For this commemoration of his life and work I have compiled a series of extracts from the hundreds of ... read more
Selected from the Archive...
A Lyric Voice at Bay Eavan Boland
Critics work in a text. Biographers work in the foreground and the background. And the critic's work is made much harder when the background has been overwritten by events, interpretations and frank and forgetful prejudice. At that point the critic has to do some double-jobbing in order to rescue the text from the biographical background and the reader's resistance.

Albert Gelpi has set himself a hard task.1 Cecil Day Lewis, at least at first glance, is a decidedly awkward subject. Before reading this book I would have said Day Lewis was a refugee from the 1930s: and Anglo-Irish Georgian, who admired Tom Moore and consorted with Auden. A gentlemanly Communist. A hopelessly lyric inhabitant of a hard-driving decade. A poet who didn't so much lose his identity as have it handed to him in fragments: national, poetic, ... read more
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