Poetry Kaleidoscope: Guide to Poetry
Heroic Couplets | Old English Poetry
Many regard William Shakespeare as the greatest English poet ever.
of English poetry stretches from the middle of the
century to the present day. Over this period, English
written some of the most enduring poems in
European culture, and
the language and its poetry have spread around the globe. Consequently, the term
English poetry is unavoidably ambiguous. It can mean poetry written in
poetry written in the
The oldest poetry written in the area currently known as England was composed
Old English, a precursor to the English language that is not something a
typical modern English-speaker could be expected to be able to read. In
addition, there was a tradition of English poets writing also in
Greek. Today's multicultural English society is likely to produce some
interesting poetry written in a wide range of other languages, although such
poetries are proving slow to emerge.
With the growth of trade and the British Empire, the English language had
been widely used outside England. In the twenty-first century, only a small
percentage of the world's native English speakers live in England, and there is
also a vast population of non-native speakers of English who are capable of
writing poetry in the language. A number of major national poetries, including
the American, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian poetry have emerged and
developed. Since 1922,
poetry has also been increasingly viewed as a separate area of study.
This article focuses on poetry written in English by poets born or spending a
significant part of their lives in England. However, given the nature of the
subject, this guideline has been applied with common sense, and reference is
made to poetry in other languages or poets who are not primarily English where
The earliest English poetry
The first page of Beowulf
The earliest known English poem is a hymn on the creation;
Bede attributes this to Cćdmon (fl. 658–680), who was, according to legend, an
illiterate herdsman who produced extemporaneous poetry at a monastery at Whitby. This is
generally taken as marking the beginning of
Much of the poetry of the period is difficult to date, or even to arrange
chronologically; for example, estimates for the date of the great epic Beowulf
range from AD 608 right through to AD 1000, and there has never been anything
even approaching a consensus. It is possible to identify certain key moments,
however. The Dream of the Rood was written before circa AD 700, when excerpts
were carved in runes on the Ruthwell Cross. The works signed by the poet
Cynewulf, namely Christ II, Elene, The Fates of the Apostles, and Juliana, have
been assigned with reasonable certainty to the 8th century. Some poems on
historical events, such as The Battle of Brunanburh (937) and The Battle of
appear to have been composed shortly after the events in question, and can be
dated reasonably precisely in consequence.
By and large, however, Anglo-Saxon poetry is categorised by the manuscripts
in which it survives, rather than its date of composition. The most important
manuscripts are the four great poetical codices of the late 10th and early 11th
centuries, known as the Caedmon manuscript, the Vercelli Book, the Exeter Book,
and the Beowulf manuscript.
While the poetry that has survived is limited in volume, it is wide in
breadth. Beowulf is the only heroic epic to have survived in its
entirety, but fragments of others such as
Waldere and the Finnsburg Fragment show that it was not unique in its time.
Other genres include much religious verse, from devotional works to biblical
paraphrase; elegies such as The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and The Ruin (often
taken to be a description of the ruins of Bath); and numerous proverbs, riddles,
With one notable exception (the aptly-named
Rhyming Poem), Anglo-Saxon poetry is written in a form of
The Anglo-Norman period and the Later Middle Ages
Norman conquest of England, beginning in 1066, the Anglo-Saxon language
immediately lost its status; the new aristocracy spoke French, and this became
the standard language of courts, parliament, and polite society. As the invaders
integrated, their language and that of the natives mingled: the French dialect
of the upper classes became Anglo-Norman, and Anglo-Saxon underwent a gradual
transition into Middle English.
While Anglo-Norman was thus preferred for high culture, English literature by
no means died out, and a number of important works illustrate the development of
the language. Around the turn of the 13th century,
Layamon wrote his Brut, based on Wace's 12th century Anglo-Norman epic of the
same name; Layamon's language is recognisably Middle English, though his prosody
shows a strong Anglo-Saxon influence remaining. Other transitional works were
preserved as popular entertainment, including a variety of romances and lyrics.
With time, the English language regained prestige, and in 1362 it replaced
French and Latin in Parliament and courts of law.
It was with the 14th century that major works of English literature began
once again to appear; these include the so-called
Pearl Poet's Pearl, Patience, Cleanness, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight;
Langland's political and religious allegory Piers Plowman; Gower's Confessio
Amantis; and, of course, the works of Chaucer, the most highly regarded English
poet of the middle ages, who was seen by his contemporaries as a successor to
the great tradition of Virgil and Dante.
The reputation of Chaucer's successors in the
15th century has suffered in comparison with him, though Lydgate and Skelton are
widely studied. However, the century really belongs to a group of remarkable
Scottish writers. The rise of Scottish poetry began with the writing of The
Kingis Quair by James I of Scotland. The main poets of this Scottish group were
Robert Henryson, William Dunbar and Gavin Douglas. Henryson and Douglas
introduced a note of almost savage satire, which may have owed something to the
while Douglas' version of Virgil's Aeneid is one of the early monuments
of Renaissance literary humanism in English.
The Renaissance in England
The Renaissance was slow in coming to England, with the generally accepted
start date being around 1509. It is also generally accepted that the English
Renaissance extended until the Restoration in 1660.
However, a number of factors had prepared the way for the introduction of the
new learning long before this start date. A number of medieval poets had, as
already noted, shown an interest in the ideas of Aristotle and the writings of
European Renaissance precursors such as Dante.
The introduction of
movable-block printing by Caxton in 1474 provided the means for the more rapid
dissemination of new or recently rediscovered writers and thinkers. Caxton also
printed the works of Chaucer and Gower and these books helped establish the idea
of a native poetic tradition that was linked to its European counterparts. In
addition, the writings of English humanists like Thomas More and Thomas Elyot helped bring the ideas and attitudes associated with the new learning
to an English audience.
Two other factors in the establishment of the English Renaissance were the
Reformation and the opening of the era of English naval power and overseas
exploration and expansion. The establishment of the Church of England in 1535
accelerated the process of questioning the Catholic world-view that had
previously dominated intellectual and artistic life. At the same time,
long-distance sea voyages helped provide the stimulus and information that
underpinned a new understanding of the nature of the universe which resulted in
the theories of Nicolas Copernicus and Johannes Kepler.
Early Renaissance poetry
With a small number of exceptions, the early years of the
16th century are not particularly notable. The Douglas Aeneid was completed in
1513 and John Skelton wrote poems that were transitional between the late
Medieval and Renaissance styles. The new king, Henry VIII, was something of a
poet himself. The most significant English poet of this period was Thomas Wyatt, who was among the first poets to write
Elizabethan period in poetry is characterised by a number of frequently
overlapping developments. The introduction and adaptation of themes, models and
verse forms from other European traditions and classical literature, the
Elizabethan song tradition, the emergence of a courtly poetry often centred
around the figure of the monarch and the growth of a verse-based drama are among
the most important of these developments.
A wide range of Elizabethan poets wrote songs, including
Nicholas Grimald, Thomas Nashe and Robert Southwell. There are also a large
number of extant anonymous songs from the period. Perhaps the greatest of all
the songwriters was Thomas Campion. Campion is also notable because of his experiments with
metres based on counting syllables rather than stresses. These quantitative
metres were based on classical models and should be viewed as part of the wider
Renaissance revival of Greek and Roman artistic methods.
The songs were generally printed either in miscellanies or anthologies such
as Richard Tottel's 1557 Songs and Sonnets or in songbooks that included printed
music to enable performance. These performances formed an integral part of both
public and private entertainment. By the end of the 16th century, a new
generation of composers, including John Dowland, William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons,
Thomas Weelkes and Thomas Morley were helping to bring the art of Elizabethan song to an
extremely high musical level.
With the consolidation of Elizabeth's power, a genuine court sympathetic to
poetry and the arts in general emerged. This encouraged the emergence of a
poetry aimed at, and often set in, an idealised version of the courtly world.
Among the best known examples of this are
Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, which is effectively an extended hymn of
praise to the queen, and Philip Sydney's Arcadia. This courtly trend can also be
seen in Spenser's Shepheardes Calender. This poem marks the introduction into an
English context of the classical pastoral, a mode of poetry that assumes an aristocratic audience with a
certain kind of attitude to the land and peasants. The explorations of love
found in the
William Shakespeare and the poetry of Walter Raleigh and others also implies a courtly audience.
Elizabethan verse drama
Elizabethan verse drama is widely considered to be one of the major
achievements of literature in English, and its most famous exponent,
William Shakespeare, is revered as the greatest poet in the language. This
drama, which served both as courtly masque and popular entertainment, deals with
all the major themes of contemporary literature and life.
There are plays on
European, classical, and religious themes reflecting the importance of humanism
and the Reformation. There are also a number of plays dealing with English
history that may be read as part of an effort to create an indigenous national
myth and as artistic underpinnings for Elizabeth's resistance to the Spanish and
other foreign threats. A number of the comic works for the stage also use
bucolic themes connected with the pastoral
In addition to Shakespeare, other notable dramatists of the period include
Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker and Ben Jonson.
Gavin Douglas' Aeneid, Thomas Campion's metrical experiments, and
Spenser's Shepheardes Calender and plays like Shakespeare's Antony and
Cleopatra are all examples of the influence of classicism on Elizabethan poetry.
It remained common for poets of the period to write on themes from classical
mythology; Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis and the Christopher Marlowe/George
Chapman Hero and Leander are examples of this kind of work.
Translations of classical poetry also became more widespread, with the
versions of Ovid's Metamorphoses by Arthur Golding (1565–7) and George Sandys
(1626), and Chapman's translations of Homer's Iliad
(1611) and Odyssey (c.1615), among the outstanding examples.
Jacobean and Caroline poetry
English Renaissance poetry after the Elizabethan poetry can be seen as
belonging to one of three strains; the
Metaphysical poets, the Cavalier poets and the school of Spenser. However, the boundaries between
these three groups are not always clear and an individual poet could write in
more than one manner.
The Metaphysical poets
The early 17th century saw the emergence of this group of poets who wrote in
a witty, complicated style. The most famous of the
Metaphysicals is probably John Donne. Others include George Herbert, Henry
Vaughan, Andrew Marvell and Richard Crashaw. John Milton in his Comus falls into
this group. The Metaphysical poets went out of favour in the 18th century but
began to be read again in the Victorian era. Donne's reputation was finally
fully restored by the approbation of T. S. Eliot in the early 20th century.
The Cavalier poets
Cavalier poets wrote in a lighter, more elegant and artificial style than the
Metaphysical poets. Leading members of the group include Ben Jonson, Richard
Lovelace, Robert Herrick, Edmund Waller, Thomas Carew and John Denham. The Cavalier poets can be seen as the forerunners of the major
poets of the Augustan era, who admired them greatly.
The school of Spenser
The early 17th century also saw a group of poets who were interested in
following Spenser's example in the area of long mythological poems. These
Michael Drayton, William Browne and the brothers Giles and Phineas Fletcher.
Although these poets wrote against the literary fashion of their day and have
since been much neglected, their tradition led directly to John Milton's great
mythological long poem, Paradise Lost.
The Restoration and 18th century
It is perhaps ironic that Paradise Lost, a story of fallen pride, was
the first major poem to appear in England after the Restoration. The court of
Charles II had, in its years in France, learned
a worldliness and sophistication that marked it as distinctively different from
the monarchies that preceded the Republic. Even if Charles had wanted to
reassert the divine right of kingship, the Protestantism and taste for power of
the intervening years would have rendered it impossible.
It is hardly surprising that the world of fashion and
scepticism that emerged encouraged the art of satire. All the major poets of the
period, Samuel Butler, John Dryden, Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson, and the
Irish poet Jonathan Swift, wrote satirical verse. What is perhaps more surprising is
that their satire was written in defence of public order and the established
church and government.
18th century classicism
18th century is sometimes called the
Augustan age, and contemporary admiration for the classical world extended
to the poetry of the time. Not only did the poets aim for a polished high style
in emulation of the Roman ideal, they also translated and imitated Greek and
Dryden translated all the known works of Virgil, and Pope produced versions of
the two Homeric epics.
Horace and Juvenal were also widely translated and imitated, Horace most
famously by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester and Juvenal by Samuel Johnson's Vanity of
Women poets in the 18th century
During the period of the restoration, two women poets of note emerged. These
Katherine Phillips and Aphra Behn. In addition to these two, a number of other
women had plays performed on the London stage. Nevertheless, women poets were
still relatively scarce and only two of them published collections during the
first decade of the new century. By the 1790s, that number had grown to over
thirty. It is evident that women poets had become more acceptable and this
change is generally dated to the 1730s. Among the most successful of these women
were Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, Elizabeth Thomas, Lady Mary Wortley
Montague, Mary Leapor, Susanna Blamire and Hannah More.
The late 18th century
Towards the end of the 18th century, poetry began to move away from the
strict Augustan ideals and a new emphasis on sentiment and the feelings of the
poet. This trend can perhaps be most clearly seen in the handling of nature,
with a move away from poems about formal gardens and landscapes by urban poets
and towards poems about nature as lived in. The leading exponents of this new
Thomas Gray, William Cowper, George Crabbe, Christopher Smart and Robert Burns
as well as the Irish poet Oliver Goldsmith. These poets can be seen as paving
the way for the Romantic movement.
The Romantic movement
The last quarter of the 18th century was a time of social and political
turbulence, with revolutions in the
United States, France, Ireland and elsewhere. In Great Britain, movement for
social change and a more inclusive sharing of power was also growing. This was
the backdrop against which the Romantic movement in English poetry emerged.
The main poets of this movement were
William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe
Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Keats. The birth of English Romanticism is often dated to the publication in
1798 of Wordsworth
and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads. However, Blake had been publishing since
the early 1780s.
In poetry, the
movement emphasized the creative expression of the individual and the need to
find and formulate new forms of expression. The Romantics, with the partial
exception of Byron, rejected the poetic ideals of the eighteenth century, and
each of them returned to Milton for inspiration, though each drew something
different from Milton. They also put a good deal of stress on their own
originality. However, as has already been noted, many of their themes and
attitudes had already begun to appear earlier in the century.
The Romantics were not the only poets of note at this time. In the work of
John Clare the late Augustan voice is blended with a peasant's first-hand
knowledge to produce arguably some of the finest nature poetry in the English
language. Another contemporary poet who does not fit into the Romantic group was
Walter Savage Landor. Landor was a classicist whose poetry forms a link between
the Augustans and Robert Browning, who much admired it.
Victorian era was a period of great political, social and economic change. The
Empire recovered from the loss of the American colonies and entered a period of
rapid expansion. This expansion, combined with increasing industrialisation and
mechanisation, led to a prolonged period of economic growth. The Reform Act 1832
was the beginning of a process that would eventually lead to universal suffrage.
High Victorian poetry
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The major High Victorian poets were
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Matthew
Arnold and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Tennyson was, to some degree, the Spenser of the new
age and his Idylls of the Kings can be read as a Victorian version of
The Faerie Queen, that is as a poem that sets out to provide a mythological
foundation to the idea of empire.
The Brownings spent much of their time out of England and explored European
models and matter in much of their poetry. Robert Browning's great innovation
dramatic monologue, which he used to its full extent in his long novel in
verse, The Ring and the Book. Elizabeth Barrett Browning is perhaps best
remembered for Sonnets from the Portuguese but her long poem Aurora
Leigh is one of the classics of 19th century
Matthew Arnold was much influenced by Wordsworth, though his poem Dover
Beach is often considered a precursor of the
modernist revolution. Hopkins wrote in relative obscurity and his work was
not published until after his death. His unusual style (involving what he called
"sprung rhythm" and heavy reliance on rhyme and alliteration) had a considerable
influence on many of the poets of the 1940s.
Pre-Raphaelites, arts and crafts, Aestheticism, and the "Yellow" 1890s
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: selfportrait
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a mid-19th century arts movement dedicated to the
reform of what they considered the sloppy Mannerist painting of the day.
Although primarily concerned with the visual arts, two members, the brother and
sister Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti, were also poets of some ability. Their poetry shares
many of the concerns of the painters; an interest in Medieval models, an almost
obsessive attention to visual detail and an occasional tendency to lapse into
Dante Rossetti worked with his member, and had some influence on others
members, the leading Arts and Crafts painter and poet William Morriswho also enjoyed his member. Morris shared the Pre-Raphaelite
interest in the poetry of the European Middle Ages, to the point of producing
some illuminated manuscript volumes of his work.
Towards the end of the century, English poets began to take an interest in
symbolism and Victorian poetry entered a decadent fin-de-siecle
phase. Two groups of poets emerged, the
Book poets who adhered to the tenets of
Aestheticism, including Algernon Charles Swinburne, Oscar Wilde and Arthur
Symons and the Rhymer's Club group that included Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson
and W. B. Yeats.
The 20th century
The first three decades
The Victorian era continued into the early years of the
20th century and two figures emerged as the leading representative of the poetry
of the old era to act as a bridge into the new. These were Yeats and Thomas
Hardy. Yeats, although not a modernist, was to learn a lot from the
new poetic movements that sprang up around him and adapted his writing to the
new circumstances. Hardy was, in terms of technique at least, a more traditional
figure and was to be a reference point for various anti-modernist reactions,
especially from the 1950s onwards.
The Georgian poets
Georgian poets were the first major grouping of the post-Victorian era. Their
work appeared in a series of five anthologies called Georgian Poetry which were
published by Harold Monro and edited by Edward Marsh. The poets featured
included Edmund Blunden, Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, D. H. Lawrence, Walter de
la Mare and Siegfried Sassoon. Their poetry represented something of a reaction to the
decadence of the 1890s and tended towards the sentimental. Brooke and Sassoon
were to go on to win reputations as war poets and Lawrence quickly distanced
himself from the group and was associated with the modernist movement.
World War I
As already noted, the Georgian poets Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon are
now mostly remembered for their war poetry. Other notable poets who wrote about
Isaac Rosenberg, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Owen, May Cannan and, from the home
front, Hardy and Rudyard Kipling. Although many of these poets wrote socially aware criticism
of the war, most remained technically conservative and traditionalist.
Mina Loy and her husband Stephen Haweis at Académie Colarossi
The early decades of the 20th century saw the
United States begin to overtake the
United Kingdom as the major economic power. In the world of poetry, this
period also saw American writers at the forefront of avant-garde
practices. Among the foremost of these poets were
T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, both of whom spent part, and in Eliot's case a considerable part, of
their writing lives in England.
Pound's involvement with the
Imagists marked the beginning of a revolution in the way poetry was written.
English poets involved with this group included D. H. Lawrence, Richard
Aldington, T. E. Hulme, F. S. Flint, Ford Madox Ford, Allen Upward and John
Cournos. Eliot, particularly after the publication of The Waste Land,
became a major figure and influence on other English poets.
In addition to these poets, other English modernists began to emerge. These
included the London-Welsh poet and painter
David Jones, whose first book, In Parenthesis, was one of the very few
experimental poems to come out of World War I, the Scot Hugh MacDiarmid, Mina
Loy and Basil Bunting.
The poets who began to emerge in the 1930s had two things in common; they had
all been born too late to have any real experience of the pre-World
War I world and they grew up in a period of social, economic and political
turmoil. Perhaps as a consequence of these facts, themes of community, social (in)justice
and war seem to dominate the poetry of the decade.
The New Country poets
The poetic landscape of the decade was dominated by four poets;
W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Cecil Day-Lewis and Louis MacNeice, although the
last of these belongs at least as much to the history of Irish poetry. These
poets were all, in their early days at least, politically active on the Left.
Although they admired Eliot, they also represented a move away from the
technical innovations of their modernist predecessors. A number of other, less
enduring, poets also worked in the same vein. One of these was Michael Roberts, whose New Country anthology both introduced the
group to a wider audience and gave them their name.
Surrealism and others
The 1930s also saw the emergence of a home-grown English
surrealist poetry whose main exponents were David Gascoyne, Hugh Sykes Davies,
George Barker, and Philip O'Connor. These poets turned to French models rather than either the
New Country poets or English-language modernism, and their work was to
prove of importance to later English experimental poets as it broadened the
scope of the English avant-garde tradition.
John Betjeman and Stevie Smith, who were two of the most significant poets of this period, stood
outside all schools and groups. Betjeman was a quietly ironic poet of Middle
England with a fine command of a wide range of
Smith was an entirely unclassifiable one-off voice.
The war poets
The 1940s opened with the United Kingdom at war and a new generation of war
poets emerged in response. These included
Keith Douglas, Alun Lewis, Henry Reed and F. T. Prince. As with the poets of the First World War, the work of these
writers can be seen as something of an interlude in the history of 20th century
poetry. Technically, many of these war poets owed something to the 1930s poets,
but their work grew out of the particular circumstances in which they found
themselves living and fighting.
The New Romantics
The main movement in post-war 1940s poetry was the New Romantic group that
Dylan Thomas, George Barker, W. S. Graham, Kathleen Raine, Henry Treece and J.
F. Hendry. These writers saw themselves as in revolt against the classicism of
the New Country poets. They turned to such models as Gerard Manley Hopkins,
Arthur Rimbaud and Hart Crane and the word play of James Joyce. Thomas, in particular, helped
Anglo-Welsh poetry to emerge as a recognisable force.
Other 1940s poets
Other significant poets to emerge in the 1940s include
Lawrence Durrell, Bernard Spencer, Roy Fuller, Norman Nicholson, Vernon Watkins,
R. S. Thomas and Norman McCaig. These last four poets represent a trend towards
regionalism and poets writing about their native areas; Watkins and Thomas in
Wales, Nicholson in Cumberland and MacCaig in Scotland.
The 1950s were dominated by three groups of poets,
The Movement, The Group and a number of poets that gathered around the label
The Movement poets as a group came to public notice in
Robert Conquest's 1955 anthology New Lines. The core of the group consisted of
Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Jennings, D. J. Enright, Kingsley Amis, Thom Gunn and
Donald Davie. They were identified with a hostility to modernism and
internationalism, and looked to Hardy as a model. However, both Davie and Gunn
later moved away from this position.
As befits their name,
the Group were much more formally a group of poets, meeting for weekly
discussions under the chairmanship of Philip Hobsbaum and Edward Lucie-Smith.
Other Group poets included Martin Bell, Peter Porter, Peter Redgrove, George
MacBeth and David Wevill. Hobsbaum spent some time teaching in Belfast, where he
was a formative influence on the emerging Northern Ireland poets including
The Extremist Art poets
The term Extremist Art was first used by the poet
A. Alvarez to describe the work of the American poet Sylvia Plath. Other poets
associated with this group included Plath's one-time husband Ted Hughes, Francis
Berry and Jon Silkin. These poets are sometimes compared with the Expressionist German school.
The Modernist tradition
A number of young poets working in what might be termed a modernist vein also
started publishing during this decade. These included
Charles Tomlinson, Gael Turnbull, Roy Fisher and Bob Cobbing. These poets can now be seen as forerunners of some of the major
developments during the following two decades.
The 1960s and 1970s
In the early part of the 1960s, the centre of gravity of mainstream poetry
moved to Ireland, with the emergence of
Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin, Paul Muldoon and others. In England, the most cohesive groupings can, in
retrospect, be seen to cluster around what might loosely be called the modernist
tradition and draw on American as well as indigenous models.
The British Poetry Revival
British Poetry Revival was a wide-reaching collection of groupings and
subgroupings that embraces
concrete poetry as well as the legacy of Pound, Jones, MacDiarmid, Loy and
Black Mountain poets, among others. Leading poets associated with this
J. H. Prynne, Eric Mottram, Tom Raworth, Denise Riley and Lee Harwood.
The Mersey Beat
Mersey Beat poets were Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough. Their work
was a self-conscious attempt at creating an English equivalent to the Beats.
Many of their poems were written in protest against the established social order
and, particularly, the threat of nuclear war. Although not actually a Mersey
Beat poet, Adrian Mitchell is often associated with the group in critical discussion.
English poetry now
The last three decades of the 20th century saw a number of short-lived poetic
groupings such as the
Martians. There was a growth in interest in women's writing and in poetry
from England's ethnic groupings, especially the West Indian community. Poets who
Carol Ann Duffy, Andrew Motion, Craig Raine, Wendy Cope, James Fenton, Blake
Morrison, Grace Lake, Liz Lochhead, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephaniah. There was also a growth in performance poetry fuelled by
Poetry Slam movement. A new generation of innovative poets has also sprung
up in the wake of the Revival grouping.
Despite all of this activity, major publishers dropped their poetry lists and
both young and established writers became increasingly reliant on small and
medium sized presses, generally dependent on State funding. As of 2004, it
appears that a still thriving literature is faced with an ever-decreasing
- Hamilton, Ian. The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in
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