An interview of Paul Stubbs by Darran Anderson on 3:AM Magazine’s Buzzwords blog, September 21, 2010.
3) Over forty years ago, A. Alvarez wrote in The New Poetry of the curse of English poetry being gentility, looking at the most prominent recent collections it’s a blight that seems as sadly prevalent as ever. There’s a sense that poetry is still languishing in pastoral odes and navel-gazing whilst fiction, film and music have all embraced the modern, the fantastical even the terrible possibilities of the 20th and 21st centuries. You’ve spoken previously of your opposition to conservatism in poetry, is this something to be pursued with the Black Herald?
It is something we will pursue. In his introduction to The New Poetry anthology that you mention Alvarez also remarked that ‘Englishman didn’t believe in the inner life, and preferred not to mention it.’ This still holds true, and I have long since attacked what I have deemed the ‘island-bound verbiage’ of a large proportion of British poets writing today, poetry produced in the workshop, which, like a factory in an imaginative state of desuetude, churns out clone after clone of competent, yet unoriginal and mediocre poets, those who veer no further than their own filial and fractious narratives, or those who (despite Mayakovsky nearly a hundred years ago declaring that ‘nature’ poetry was dead) still want to be ‘closer to nature’. The editors of some of the ‘leading’ poetry magazines who deem it fit to handpick their poets are badly at fault of course, but this lack of diversity has given birth, in a creative sense, to an infertile poetical womb. Alvarez mentioned also the ‘isolated spirit’ of the ‘little Englander’, which has existed and still exists today because English critics, in failing to sift through this ‘diversity’ have constructed for themselves (not for the reader) the scaffold of unstable hierarchies, and thus too many important poets have been relegated to the ‘underground’ or to the imaginative attic. Academics and journalists who manipulate (through incompetence, blindness and laziness) false reputations, while delighting in their own cleverness when disparaging (how they see it) the literary also-rans. So at the Black Herald we are keen to extend even our own reading and literary tastes, while being fully aware (something we both vehemently believe) that a ‘personal taste’ is NOT a critical opinion, something critics or editors in England fail all too frequently to acknowledge.