John Bloomberg-Rissman's latest work, In the House of the Hangman is a monstrous account of how we are and how we live now. It is an almost daily 'mash' from many different sources intended (in part) to document the world in the now and to produce what Lefebvre calls a 'recognition effect' and points towards what he described as a 'horizon of meaning'. The mash makes use of a wide range of disparate resources and has some brief notes at the end of each poem.
Paul Celan is recognised as one of the last century's greatest poets yet his later poems are considered by many to be virtually inaccessible. Most of the criticism on Celan manages to be more difficult than the original work. A Romanian Jew, he survived the Holocaust but both his parents died. He lived in Paris after the war and worked as a translator. His work is written in German, his mother tongue.
Emily Dickinson produced some of the most extraordinary work of the 19th century. None of her poems were published during her lifetime but she left behind material that continues to provoke and challenge our modern sensibilities. The poems at first appear as both 'wrong' and naive but further inspection this is certainly not the case. Her verse has a strength and technical prowess that the rest of us, even now, would do well to learn from. The arduity pages are intended to be an initial response rather than a fully formed view.
Geoffrey Hill has published magnificently obdurate work throughout his long career. He continues to divide critics and to produce poetry that is complex and inspiring. His Mercian Hymns and The Triumph of Love sequences are two of the very best works of poetry in the last fifty years. His recently published Collected, Broken Hierarchies, marks a career filled with invention and strength.
Simon Jarvis produces work that has a range and strength and a readiness to follow his own distinct furrow. In terms of range, there cannot be a wider spectrum than Dionysus Crucified, Eighteen Poems and Night Office. The first of these is a radical adventure in free verse, the second appears on the surface to be a conventional collection whilst the third is a poem of 220 pages entirley in metrical and rhyming verse. Jarvis demands/requires concentration, his work is erudite without being overly elitist and the 'points' he has to make unfold with each reading. One of the reasonably constant threads is that of complicity in that we are all, no matter how radical or progressive, in conscious collusion with a system that is suffocating us and any sense of individual autonomy that we may have.
David Jones is one of the best (and most overlooked) poets in any language in the 20th century. His In Parenthesis has been described by Michael Howard (our foremost military historian) as one of the best accounts of warfareeverand The Anathemata was nominated by Auden as the best long poem of the 20th century in English. This is an attempt to justify these claims by means of an overview and other, more detailed explorations.
Purdey Lord Kreiden. I've been following Purdey's remarkable work on the Claudius app and have grown increasingly impressed by the development of a singular voice. This is disturbing and dark stuff, qualities which I'm particularly fond of but only if they're done well- the intention to disturb is not enough. Being disturbed, for me, is having my long held beliefs and prejudices and ideologies questioned and this material seems particularly proficient at that.
John Matthias thrives on making the complex look and sound easy. He has that rare gift of being able to say profound things in a straightforward and refreshingly relaxed manner. John and I have just completed the Annotated Trigons Project which is an experimental attempt to explore the potential of the internet with regard to providing greater context to complex work. John's Collected has also been recently published by Shearsman and shows a wide range of intelligent and technicaly masterful body of work.
Charles Olson was an American poet whose Maximus Poems represent a grounbreaking shift in the possibilities of poetry. Derided by some as 'sub-Poundian', Olson was an enormous talent and should be read much more widely. His mainfesto Projective Verse is one of the most important and innovative statements of poetics since 1945. Maximus is a huge sequence and is concerned with history, myth, the archive as well as Gloucester, the fishing port in Massachusetts, where Olson lived.
John Peck's M is a sequence in ten parts that is packed with invention and skill. Concentrated attention in this case brings the reader a sense of participation in a world of subtle cadence and gloriously complex technique. This is hardcore work that demands our respect. In the first piece I consider the depiction of Nature, Hildegard of Bingen use of viriditas, and the recursive Hegel Problem.
I have in the past referred to Vanessa Place as the scariest poet on the planet and I'm still of this view because some of her work is implacably brutal in the light it sheds on our world. Tragodia in particular is both 100% conceptual and crucially important for it demonstrates to the rest of us how much more can be achieved outside the poetry bubble. Place has described this particular work as 'self-plagiarization' as she makes verbatim use of her own written work as a lawyer, focusing in part on the case of the Belmont Shore rapist.
J H Prynne In getting involved with Prynne's incredible body of work, readers will find that giving very close attention to words and phrases needs to go hand in hand with keeping a close eye on the apparent contexts. There are often several of these which makes things more absorbing / tricky. This isn't 'open' material whereby anything goes: it is important to recognise that Prynne is working within the poetic tradition. The work takes poetry very seriously and incorporates how words sound as well as how they read on the page.
Keston Sutherland In 2010, this was a brief introduction to Keston's work but four years later it seems to me that something broader is required to do justice to what Might Be Going On. In my opinion and that of more than a few others, Keston is producing the most important work in the UK. I know that's a big claim and that there are many other contenders but the fact is that this material manages to work in several dimensions at once and does this with enormous energy and skill. The emphasis here will be on Stress Position and The Odes to TL61P because I feel that these are Keston's most important works.
Michael Thomas Taren We first became enamoured of Taren's work when some of it appeared in the first issue of the Claudius App in 2011. Since then he's produced an increasingly accomplished and important body of work which covers a broad range of forms and subject matter with an unusually high degree of technical nous. His In Smithereens will be published shortly.
Jonty Tiplady Initially, I couldn't get my brain around this material for a while and then some of Jonty's work appeared in Chris Goode's wonderful Better than Language anthology and I suddenly saw the 'light'. His work has now gone into a radically innovative and strategically important (crucial) orbit that holds out some hope for the future of the Poem. Before we get any further, the Trillionaires project is something we all need to mull over, not just for its quality but also because of its contribution to the scheme of things poetry-wise.