Friday, January 6, 2012

The Best British Poetry 2011

This book is based on the The Best American Poetry series of anthologies founded in the late 1980’s, and has been compiled  from various British sources. The selection was chosen from UK- based Poetry magazines, Literary journals and online publications  issued between spring 2010 and spring 2011, by the Scottish poet Roddy Lumsden, who also wrote the introduction. His aim in compiling this collection was that the material gathered should represent the rich variety of current UK poetry, including lyric, formal and experimental writing, that it should also represent the diversity of the poetry scene from established poets such as  Patrick McGuinness, George Szirtes and Nii Ayikwei Parkes through to  a newcomer Emma Page who is represented by her first published poem. The poets included are either from the UK or are based here, there are poets originally from the US, Ghana, Ireland, South Africa, Iran, Hungary, Australia, Zambia & show the multiplicity of poetry whether mainstream or experimental within the United Kingdom.
Each poem within this stunning jewel of a book is accompanied by a note from the poet, giving a little detail of their lives and an explanation of why they wrote this particular poem, providing us, the reader, with added insight into the writing of each piece. This adds a wonderful dialogue to the collection wherein  your own interpretation of a poem can be compared with the original writers ideas. In the introduction Roddy Lumsden states that “ the end result is,  I hope,  a snapshot of what is happening at present in non-book publication of poetry in the UK” and if this is the case it chimes with what another poet (Nuala Ní Chonchúir) recently said to me, that being “ poetry is in a healthy state in the sense that it is being written and published, and there are a lot of readings taking place. The small presses keep poetry alive”, to which we owe a hearty thanks.

                       Three Wishes
                              * * *

What is it then? A gold-yoked goose egg. A wild bean-stalk.
      The flatness of adulation. Being always young. The King, the Castle.
Wheat stalks spindled to flash and twine.
Or a cozening, a camera snap that keeps you, fleece-wrapped and obdurate
as a retouched grave, a quiet pearl.
A thick sleep saved from thistling worry. A cleaned thick-brick, gated place --
chrome and cream: control.
Wired yammering to drown the sullen, rising sea.
Remember now, how the girl requested a tattooed point of light, a refined star--
      woke to the blinding, ink-scrawled sail of space,
               unbounded clusters, galaxies, cankering in her skin.
                                                                                          Kate Potts.


Kate Potts was born in 1978 and grew up in London. She worked in music publishing before studying at Goldsmiths’ College, London, and has taught English and Creative Writing at colleges in London for several years. Her pamphlet Whichever Music (tall-lighthouse) was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice in 2008 and was shortlisted for a Michael Marks Award. Her work was featured in the Bloodaxe new poets anthology Voice Recognition in 2009. Pure Hustle (Bloodaxe Books, 2011) is her first book-length collection.
Poetry Daily 

Featuring Kate Potts

Kate Potts (The Michael Marks Award)
Books by Kate Potts: Pure Hustle:
Editor Roddy Lumsden (born 1966) is a Scottish poet, who was born in St Andrews. He has published five collections of poetry, a number of chapbooks and a collection of trivia, as well as editing a generational anthology of British and Irish poets of the 1990s and 2000s, Identity Parade. He lives in London where he teaches for The Poetry School.
Best British Poetry
Salt Publishing
Roddy Lumsden(Wiki)

The Poetry Kit Interviews Roddy Lumsden


Col (Col Reads) said...

This looks like a lovely introduction to contemporary British poetry -- something I'm afraid I don't know very much about. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Radu Vancu said...

I met Mr. Roddy Lumsden last autumn in Novi Sad, Serbia, at the International Poetry Festival. If he's as good an anthologist as the poet he is, then he must have done a damn good job. :)

Unknown said...

I like books which give a little insight into the author. Classics are good for this, with their academic introductions, and the books I read from Seren and And Other Stories last year also give extra information - value adding :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting a start on the Eclectic Reader Challenge Parrish.

(Don't forget to to make a note on your post which category the book is fulfilling)

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

ShirleyGSteverson said...

This sounds like a wonderful addition to the poetry hemisphere. As a poet and a brit I certainly wished one of my poems were included. I look forward to reading it.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Col, it's definitely worth investigating, as there's a fantastic diversity of writers.

Hi Radu, as a collector of poetry anthologies, I'd say this is a good one. The introduction provides enough information without it becoming all about the editor, the selection covers a good range of styles & the contributors notes & comments add enough interest to leave you wanting to find out more.

Hi Tony, I think that by adding these extras you feel like you're getting added value, as you say but also it's an incentive to explore more.

Hi Shelleyrae,have done so + it's also linked via my 2012 challenges page (link in the sidebar).

Hello Shirley, I would say that I hope You enjoy it as much as I did, but I'd be surprised if you didn't. Enjoy.

Leslie @ This is the Refrain said...

There are some really great links here. I love Poetry Daily. There's also the Poem-A-Day email from and I love going to the Poetry Foundation website and exploring poems based on random topics or styles. Right now they have a feature on Winter Poems for example. Thanks for sharing some of these links in the comments section of my Poetry event. I hope you'll join in!

Tom Cunliffe said...

A gem of a book I am sure. And a great introduction for those who do not regularly read poetry. Thanks for bringing it to your readers' attention

cessie said...

I'm in a poetry course but it's all about Dutch poetry (reading & writing it) and I was just wondering about English poetry. So this is very interesting to me! Thanks for sharing, I will be on the lookout for it!

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Lu,have stuck my name in the hat, here's a link you may enjoy,

Hi tom thanks for your comment & yes you're right it is a great intro.

Hello from one experience into the next, would be interested in sharing some Poetry from your nation, don't know many poets Cees Nooteboom is the obvious one.

Kinna said...

Parrish, you never fail to bring must-read poetry anthologies to our attention. Thank you. Plus, a challenge I have not heard off. Thanks.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Kinna, thanks for your comment, hopefully coming soon is a Japanese & an African both by Penguin + an anthology of Love poems for Valentines day. said...

Sounds like a great anthology. Three Wishes is a great piece. So much imagery and yet so short. I enjoyed it. Thanks for always sharing such great work.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Lena, thanks for your comment, it is a,great poem isn't it & this collection is full of great poetry from known poets through to those yet to make a name for themselves.

Patrick (at The Literate Man) said...

This sounds like a great collection, and one of my new year's resolutions is more poetry in 2012. I love the idea of the poet's note accompanying each work - it's so interesting to see into the mind of the artist.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Patrick, it's worth a read especially if the idea is to increase your appreciation of poetry & if you want to do so, this may appeal

Rachel Fenton said...

No doubt the poetry will be superb but the title makes me feel icky - "best" and "British" - - surely there should be a lamb chop on the cover....

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Rachel,It was an issue that I thought about as did the editor, who mentions that particular dilemma Quote,
"Now let's deal with the B word. We have decided to go with the familiar branding in other countries of such books as "Best X Poetry". All of these books, at some time, have been questioned on the use of the debatable word "best" What best? Whose best? The word irks some people who feel that the subjective nature of selecting & editing a book like this is at odds with such an objective word as "best". I can see that, but there is no manifesto behind the word, no ulterior motive. If it really bothers anyone, a cup of tea & a nap might help. These were the poems I felt were best, of all the poems I read. Someone else would have made a different selection, and next year another editor will do so.." unquote

hope this helps you with the icky feeling, as it would be a shame to discount it on the title, thanks for your comment.

Rachel Fenton said...

Parrish, I wouldn't discount it, not at all, I didn't say I would. Ick was just my gut reaction to that particular title. I think - in terms of being a Brit in NZ - colonialism indicators/reminders all around - and I imagine THAT book title on my shelf - it makes me feel uncomfortable. "Best" and "British" seems to be just another indicator of Britain's bossyness. It's really more a comment about my politics than a criticism of the book.

@parridhlantern said...

I think I can understand this, although "British" my outlook has been more outward, partially reading literature from all over & partially having worked abroad & experienced other individuals from this countries attitudes to people of nationalities different to their own & feeling distant from it.
Thanks again for your comments.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Laurie, Indeed!

Novroz said...

That is indeed a great poem,Parrish. I wish I could write something like that

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Novroz, It is good isn't it, thanks for commenting.

Serena said...

I have not read this anthology but that could be my bias against anthologies where I find something stellar and equally bad in anthologies...I have this crazy notion that I must like everything or most everything in an anthology.

I will have to take this suggestion and dip into it.

Unfinished Person said...

I am saddened to say I haven't heard of any of these poets...but am gladdened that you are introducing them to us.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Serena, I can understand that reasoning, although my own is that they make great jumping off points, for the writers that really impress & also there are some great anthologies, not just this one but some of the Bloodaxe books.For some great poetry check out my Pomesallsizes Page (
Thanks for commenting.

Hi Unfinished Person, Thanks for the comment & if interested in more there's a link to my pomeallsize page.

Nicole said...

Thanks for posting about this anthology--I'm going to look into ordering it for my library. Sounds interesting.

Nicole said...

P. S. I have really been enjoying all the poems you've been spreading in the comments sections of the "Monthly Poetry Event" posts today!

Gavin said...

This anthology looks wonderful. Thanks for the links and the Kate Potts poem. I love it, will have to find her book somewhere.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Phaedosia,thanks for your comment & enjoy. If you're on Twitter & you're looking for more poetry try!/Pomesallsizes

Hi Gavin, if you're after some of her work, her debut pamphlet was Whichever Music 2008, her work was featured in the Bloodaxe Anthology Voice Recognition& she had her first full collection Pure Hustle published by Bloodaxe last year. for more info on Bloodaxe books...

Gavin said...

I'm going to check out the Bloodaxe web site. I have Stayng Alive and may have to get the other anthologies.

@parridhlantern said...

They are worth getting, singularly they are on par with my favourite,The Rattle Bag but collectively I believe the are the best Anthology, that I'm aware of at this moment in time, over 1200 pages of poetry.