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date: 04 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay is a partial autobiography of my effort to write poetry over some forty-five years. It begins with an account and discussion of early influences in the 1960s. The key conflict is described as between a desire to write rhetorical poems addressing political and historical subjects, and an impulse towards the poem as an artefact, as understood through my encounter with poetic modernism. This devolves upon Jon Silkin’s critique of the ‘image’ in the work of Geoffrey Hill. These concepts then frame my analyses of several of my poems from the 1960s to the present. The poems are seen as engaging with specific ideas whilst their language, in the context of a poem, also exerts independent energies: in Christopher Middleton’s terms, the word as referent and the word as phenomenon. In general, the form of poetry is seen as the available space that most fully tries to engage these inherent tensions in the nature of language.

Keywords: meaning, referent, discursiveness, form, shape, image, modernism, free verse, metric, History

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