On my second day here, I want to extend the range of poets I wish to share with you, by offering three poems by three poets, who, each, in different ways, broaden the mainstream of British poetry, and, challenge its norms, without becoming iconoclasts.
The first, Giles Goodland, makes nonsense of the old us-and-them tussle between experimental and mainstream that so occupied the poetry battles of the last decades, with his poems that are variously lyric, or avant-garde, and sometimes both; often inflected with surrealist play, and an interest in formal constraints. Primarily, as a lexicographer, he is fascinated by words, and lists. He is becoming a very significant mid-career poet in Britain.
The second, Carrie Etter, is also admirable, for her hybrid ability to move between the differing parts of the poetry playing field - as academic, anthologist, and poet; Etter's own work is popular (and, performed beautifully) but also willing to explore language and form. Her recent anthology of experimental women poets is a highly-useful and timely intervention; further, Etter, as an American expatriated to London, occupies that vital continuum that began with Pound and Eliot (and Frost) of Americans in England who actively shape the poetic discourse of the country, and very much belong to two nations.
Finally, the most cosmopolitan of the three is the Oulipo-inspired Paris-based poet-editor Rufo Quintavalle, half-Italian, half-English, whose Francophile interests have intersected with a long project to ingeniously incorporate text from Whitman into his own poems. Again, commonplace ideas of identity and labels are complicated here - it is almost silly to attempt to place his poetry, though another link with Britain is surely the Oystercatcher pamphlet, recently become a hallmark of innovation and surprise.