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Journeys to the Interior: Ideas of England in Contemporary Poetry

Authors: Sean O'Brien

Published by Bloodaxe Books

ISBN: 9781852249328

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Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Series: 12

In this innovative series of public lectures at Newcastle University, leading contemporary poets speak about the craft and practice of poetry to audiences drawn from both the city and the university. The lectures are then published in book form by Bloodaxe, giving readers everywhere the opportunity to learn what the poets themselves think about their own subject.

Where and what is the England in which we imagine we live? How do we authenticate this never-to-be-finished project? What are its imaginative origins, and how do contemporary poets stand in relation to those predecessors such as Eliot, Auden, Larkin and Hughes whose imaginary Englands have left such an imprint on the culture?

Journeys to the Interior considers the work of a range of contemporary poets, including Peter Didsbury, Carol Ann Duffy, Paul Farley, Roy Fisher, Daljit Nagra, Jo Shapcott and George Szirtes, examining areas of dissent and signs of affirmation.

Can England be seen as, in Langland’s words, ‘a fair field full of folk’? Is Englishness a matter of ‘complicated shame’, as Jo Shapcott put it? How do those born elsewhere who have made their homes here describe the experience of England? And if, as Auden said, ‘all the poet can do is warn’, what warning signs are poets receiving and transmitting in this period of doubt and anxiety?

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