Poetry just now is gloriously renascent. That, at least, is the assertion of the poetry editor of Penguin Books, Donald Futers: ‘There’s a strong case for our finding ourselves right now in a golden age for poetry,’ he claimed at the launch of the new series of Penguin Modern Poets last summer.
As someone who, in a very small way, publishes poetry and also writes it, I’ve been thinking about the slight strain in that sentence. Is he really convinced of that ‘strong case’? Professionally, I suppose, he must be. And anyway what matters on today’s poetry scene is not tiresome critical questions but the sheer plenitude of the poetry harvest. We may not have anything like a centre of critical authority (only the Times Literary Supplement, among mainstream literary journals, regularly covers contemporary poetry in any breadth), but even the most discriminating readers must concede that there is some sort of boom going on.
Futers attributes what he regards as the glistering renaissance to ‘creative writing programmes, an abundance of new publications, the ever-growing popularity of spoken word and performance poetry … and a new generation made unprecedentedly available to one another across national boundaries by the internet’. Kate Tempest, one of the country’s