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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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I Capture the Castle: A girl and her family struggle to make ends meet in an old English castle.
Dusty Answer: Young, privileged, earnest Judith falls in love with the family next door.
The Heat of the Day: In wartime London, a woman finds herself caught between two men.


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All posts for "Stallworthy"

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

16.12.2017


Henry Reed and the Great Good Place

In November of 2006, Professor Jon Stallworthy gave a talk at the Poetry Trust's Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (picture), entitled "Henry Reed: The One-Poem Poet?" The talk was, admittedly, a reworking of the introduction to Reed's Collected Poems (1991), in which Stallworthy refutes the idea that "Naming of Parts" will forever eclipse any other poetry Reed had attempted to write, and argues that Reed can finally, at "everlong last, take his rightful place at 'the starry feast'" (Aubrey de Vere).

Stallworthy has a new book just out, Survivors' Songs: From Maldon to the Somme, a "series of poetic encounters with war." There are essays on Brooke, Sassoon, and Owen (Stallworthy has both written a biography, and edited the definitive edition of Owen's poems), and the the chapter, "Henry Reed and the Great Good Place": the revised text of Stallworthy's original introduction, which likely made up his 2006 talk at Aldeburgh.


Click the book icon to preview
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In an introductory "Voice over" to the new book, Stallworthy defines his purpose in collecting these stories: "Good poets are survivors — even if, like Keats and Owen — they die at twenty-five."

I have spent many of the most rewarding hours of my life listening to the voices of absent friends — Thomas Hardy, William Yeats, Wilfred Owen, David Jones, Wystan Auden, Keith Douglas, and Old Uncle Tom Eliot and all — singing
  of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;
and I think of the essays in this book as thank-you letters expressing gratitude in terms that, I hope, may lead other readers to listen to their voices and hear in them what I have heard.
(p. x)

I am eager to get a copy of Survivors' Songs, and thanks to folks at Cambridge University Press and Amazon.co.uk, much of the book is available to be previewed (CUP even provides the handy book widget, seen above). Already I am noticing items I missed in previous versions of Reed's chapter: Reed and Ramsbotham took "civilian" lunches in Leighton Buzzard to get away from Bletchley; they briefly rented a house in Charlestown, Cornwall, in July, 1946; Reed's arrival in Verona in 1951 was heralded on the radio (he learned, later on, "with much delight"); there is a long poem, still in manuscript—possibly set during the American Civil War—alternately called "Matthew" or "In Black and White."

There is still much to be gleaned from the work set down by Professor Stallworthy, and readers have been given a second chance to really listen, and hear the voices that he has heard.

«  Books Stallworthy  0  »


1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'


Oxford War Poetry Reissue

Just in time for the holidays, Oxford is reissuing (for the second time) their Oxford Book of War Poetry, edited by Jon Stallworthy (who also edited Reed's Collected Poems). The anthology contains Reed's original three Lessons of the War poems: "Naming of Parts," "Judging Distances," and "Unarmed Combat."

D.J.R. Bruckner, in the New York Times, had this to say about the Oxford War Poetry, first published in 1984:

Mr. Stallworthy comes well prepared to write about that breed. His biography of Wilfrid Owen swept the field of prizes when it appeared; he is the definitive editor of Owen's poems and his knowledge of war literature is wide. In his introduction to this anthology he traces the lineage of World War I poets to the 18th-century English public school, its curriculum chock full of ancient heroic poetry which upper-class youth took as personal inspiration. By 1918 the ideal had died with the class in the in the trenches. The emotional power of the poems written by the best of the group comes not only from their recognition of the degradation and hopelessness of soldiers, but from a feeling they were turning their backs on their upbringing. They would never again believe with James Thomson that 'guardian angels' sang the refrain of his hymn, 'Rule, Britannia!'
("No More Famous Victories," February 24, 1985, p. 340)

Stallworthy also talks at length about war poetry in the documentary Voices in Wartime (transcripts of interviews). Here's Oxford's catalog page for the second reissue paperback.

«  Poetry Books Stallworthy  0  »


1512. Reed, Henry. "The Case for Maigret." Reviews of Maigret Hesitates and The Man on the Bench in the Barn, by Georges Simenon. Sunday Times (London), 2 August 1970: 22.
Reed reviews two translations of George Simenon's fiction.


Thus Spake Stallworthy

So, I subscribe to a Google Alert which automatically emails me once a week to notify me of any new news or webpages containing certain pertinent keywords. I've discovered, however, that due to the lag in Google's indexing, that once per week is not enough. The only Henry Reed event so far this century completely slipped my notice.

The 18th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival was held in Suffolk, November 3rd - 5th, 2006. Among others, the programme featured Nick Laird, Sharon Olds, Alastair Reid, Philip Levine (who canceled, apparently), and Jon Stallworthy (pic). Stallworthy delivered a lecture on Yeats, as well as a talk entitled "Henry Reed — The One Poem Poet?"

Suffice to say, I'm rescheduling my alerts to check once per day, so I don't get news that's already two weeks old. Didn't anyone who attended blog about it, for Pete's sake?

«  Stallworthy News  0  »


1511. William Phillips, and Philip Rahv, eds. New Partisan Reader: 1945-1953 London: Andre Deutsch, 1953. 164-171.
Collects Reed's poem, "The Door and the Window," published in the Partisan Review in 1947.



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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