If you are a Philip Larkin fan and you haven't yet seen the April 3rd issue of the TLS, then you are in for a treat. There is an amazing behind-the-scenes account by John Shakespeare of Larkin giving his first interview, in 1956, just after the publication of The Less Deceived but before anyone knew who he was. The article reprints contemporary correspondence between Shakespeare and Larkin that shows Larkin engaging in the most assiduous image management. He could have been a PR man. It's brilliant and a bit weird. Interspersed, however, are some very amazing statements about poetry (with which you might agree or disagree), such as this:
Most people say that the purpose of poetry is communication: that sounds as if one could be contented simply by telling somebody whatever it is one has noticed, felt or perceived. I feel it is a kind of permanent communication better called preservation, since one’s deepest impulse in writing (or, I must admit, painting or composing) is to my mind not “I must tell everybody about that” (i.e. responsibility to other people) but “I must stop that from being forgotten if I can” (i.e. responsibility towards subject). . . . Of course, the process of preservation does imply communication, since that is the only way an experience can be preserved, and that explains why obscurity is so often a disadvantage; the distinction between communication and preservation is one of motive, and I think the latter word gives a very proper emphasis to the language-as-preserver rather than language-as-means-of-communication. In other words it makes it sound harder, which it is!
No wonder the poor fellow only averaged around four poems a year. But what poems!