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1 - ‘Voyages over voices’: Introduction

Angela Leighton
Affiliation:
Trinity College, Cambridge
Angela Leighton
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Some twenty-five years ago, as a young lecturer at the University of Hull, I was invited late one cold, winter afternoon to attend a poetry reading. For some reason the organisers, Oxford University Press, had failed to alert anyone to the occasion, and I was part of a last-minute whip-round for an audience. In the event there were just three of us sitting in an empty back room in the student union, trying not to look so uncomfortably few. I shall never forget, however, listening to a fiery, diminutive woman reading her poems, one of which in particular made the hairs prick at the back of my neck and brought tears to my eyes. The poem was ‘Willow Song’, and the poet was Anne Stevenson.

When, many years later, Liverpool University Press asked if I might like to edit a collection of essays on a contemporary poet, in a series which already included Paul Muldoon and Roy Fisher, it did not take me long to decide on Anne Stevenson – a poet who has published more than eighteen volumes of poetry as well as several works of criticism, and who has been the recipient of honours and awards on both sides of the Atlantic. Now in her seventies, Stevenson, like many poets writing during the last forty or fifty years, has of course been in and out of critical fashion. Herself a feisty and forthright critic of many of those fashions, she has nevertheless remained true, through times of favour and disfavour, to her own voice and her own sense of what constitutes poetry.

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Voyages over Voices
Critical Essays on Anne Stevenson
, pp. 3 - 13
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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