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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

Read "Naming of Parts."

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Henry Reed, ca. 1960


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Cold Comfort Farm: Sensible Flora Poste moves in with her eccentric country relatives.
The Dog Stars: A man, his dog, and an airplane survive an apocalyptic flu.
The Sparrow: A Jesuit-led mission to a newly discovered planet.


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Posts from August 2013

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

23.10.2014


Footnote to Who's Who

Let us take note of this footnote to a Gavin Ewart poem. Ewart (1916-1995) is known around these parts for his frequent comparison to Reed — Ewart's contemporary — particularly for his Second World War poem, "The Bofors A.A. Gun."

In Ewart's Collected Poems: 1980-1990, we find the following piece of light verse (Google Book Search snippet view):

The Beginning of an Ode on Who's Who
I'm terribly excited—
I have been invited
to join that great bunch of nonentities
who have the inflated identities,
such as Lord Leatherhead and Viscount Foxford
(who knew all the right—or were they the wrong?—
people at Oxford),

metallurgists, musicians,
phenomenologists, physicians
(and almost anyone in Debrett is
sure to be in with the celebrities—
but it's not so common for the neglected scribbler
to get into this exclusive club before he's senile
or a dribbler);

though there you might someday find it,
when you were halt, lame and blinded,
your name—is it really a good dropping one?
Though once one's in there's no stopping one,
one can drawl, like MacBeth, 'Oh course I'm in Who's Who now,'
one's poetic specific gravity is certainly multiplied
by more than two now!

I'll be there with the great ones,
the truly honoured-by-the-State ones,
in that Never-Never-Land fathers
never reached (though both my grandfathers),
with conservative academics, donnish and prudish;
among the old women of both sexes my name may seem
a tiny bit rudish?

But the military, the Naval, the flying
(who don't mind people dying),
the Earls and the epistemologists,
the dentists, divines and Catholic apologists,
those who in stately homes discuss a cru or a crumpet,
though they won't like it at all, I'm sure, will just
have to lump it!
[pp. 118-119]
And the MacBeth footnote? (The Scottish poet, not the play.) I've pieced it back together, in toto:

Footnote

I am particularly fond of the sequence "Pinter Pitter Porter," which I think transforms the footnote into a sort of list poem, and makes it an integral part of Ewart's ode.

Reed seems to have become equally disenchanted with his appearance in Who's Who: he was first added to the rolls as early as 1952, but his 1977 entry contains his personal revisions to his bio and publications.

«  Ewart Poetry  0  »


1505. Orwell, George. "Young Writers." Review of New Writing and Daylight (Summer 1943), edited by John Lehmann. Spectator (30 July 1943): 110.
Orwell says of "The End of an Impulse," Reed's criticism of the Auden-Spender school of poetry, 'Henry Reed's essay contains some valuable remarks on the dangers of group literature.'


Naming of Parts, Literally

Ben Mellor is a Manchester-based, award-winning slam poet. His first full-length spoken word show, Anthropoetry (with music by Dan Steele), is a linguistic road trip through the human body, and includes this spin on Henry Reed's classic "Naming of Parts":


«  NamingOfParts Audio  0  »


1504. Ludwig, Jennifer. "Lessons of the War: Henry Reed." In vol. 2, Literature of War: Experiences, edited by Thomas Riggs. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 2012. 359-361.
A relatively lengthy assessment of Reed's influences, position, and the impact resulting from his famous sequence of poems, Lessons of the War.



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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