Poems 2016-2024

J.H. Prynne

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Bloodaxe Books
21 June 2024
ISBN: 9781780376929
752 pages

From the publisher

J.H. Prynne is Britain’s leading late Modernist poet. His austere yet playful poetry challenges our sense of the world, not by any direct address to the reader but by showing everything in a different light, enacting slips and changes of meaning through shifting language.

Not since the late work of Ezra Pound and the Maximus series of Charles Olson have the possibilities of poetry been so fundamentally questioned and extended as they are in the life work of J.H. Prynne. When his Poems was first published in 1999, it was immediately acclaimed as a landmark in modern poetry. Four further collections were added to the second edition of Poems in 2005, followed by a further seven along with a group of uncollected poems to the third edition of Poems (2015).

The decade since Poems (2015) has been the most productive period of Prynne's life, with over thirty limited editions published between 2017 and 2024. To have added these to a fourth edition of Poems would have doubled the size of that volume. Poems 2016–2024 is therefore a separate, supplementary edition of his later work, including, except for minor corrections, the mostly unchanged contents of 36 texts written since Poems (2015), from Each to Each (2017), written in 2016, to Alembic Forest (2024), including the corrected 2023 text of At Raucous Purposeful (2022). The 26 Impromptus comprising Memory Working, originally published in three separate editions in 2020 and 2021, appear here as a complete sequence.

Prynne's most productive decade has also seen the publication of three prose works, Graft and Corruption: Shakespeare's Sonnet 15 (2015/2016), Apophthegms (2017) and Whitman and Truth (2022), along with editions of Prynne's correspondence with Charles Olson (2017) and Douglas Oliver (2022). His two-volume Collected Prose is forthcoming from Oxford University Press (New York).

'J H Prynne’s work is difficult, but (unlike the work of many other difficult poets) it is not at all cryptic. There’s no sense of meaning being withheld or obscured; nothing cries out for elucidation. It doesn’t mean, in that sense, at all, and if instead of getting annoyed by it you allow yourself to be swept away, it is buffeting and exhilarating, not at all like any other poetry in the world.' – John Clegg, The Telegraph (Poetry Book of the Month for June 2024)

‘While one might have expected an update of Prynne’s already monumental Poems, the arrival of more than 700 pages of new work is a remarkable turn of events […] Here is a book to keep us busy for a very long time.’ – David Wheatley, The Guardian (Best recent poetry round-up), on Poems 2016–2024

‘What I love about Snooty Tipoffs – and Poems 2016-2024 in general – is that Prynne resists the grave reverie of silence, the late whispers we encounter in Ezra Pound or Samuel Beckett. Instead, the poet blows raspberries, laughs his head off.’ – Luke Roberts, Sidecar (New Left Review)

'Etymological derivations have always mattered immensely to Prynne [...] Prynne’s determined craft of language connects our world of the Now with the world of our Past.' – Ian Brinton, Litter magazine, on on Poems 2016–2024