Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Selecting Jeremy Reed

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Good news today: at last, the Selected Poems of Jeremy Reed, on which I’ve been working for more than three years, will be published by Shearsman – probably in 2020. It’s a big, generous selection – maybe some 300 pages – but it isn’t a page too long, or a poem too many.

Jeremy Reed – An elusive figure, but an exciting reader if you can catch him!

Jeremy Reed (born 1951) is quite possibly the most talented poet of my generation, and certainly the most prolific, with something over fifty published collections to his credit. He has won many awards. But his reclusive nature, and the sheer vast number of his publications, mean that he’s unfamiliar to the present-day poetry public, and even if people are interested, they don’t know where to start in his vast oeuvre.

The plan of Collusive Strangers: Selected Poems 1979-2020 will be to provide a map to this amazing poet’s development, with a selection of his very best work.

It was a close thing. I prepared the book for publication by Enitharmon Press, who went bust just as I was submitting the text. But the news that Shearsman will take it on is a huge boost and a great delight. Hopefully Reed’s work will again find the readers it deserves.

Jeremy Reed has been a poet of huge variety. In the 1970s and ‘80s he was famous for writing the best nature poems since John Clare, and received accolades from the likes of Seamus Heaney. Later he wrote with unexampled vividness about the AIDS epidemic, about the cultural phenomenon of British pop, about drugs and cyberspace. In the Blair era he wrote scorchingly about politics. His poems have taken in Sci-Fi (he was a friend of J.G. Ballard) and many aspects of sexuality. He is an unexampled modern writer on landscape and the street life of London.

Reed is also a poet other writers should learn from. His vocabulary is enormous, his range of forms protean. If you haven’t heard of him, it’s time you did. If thought he’d stopped writing, you were wrong. If you heard he was eccentric, uncooperative, troublesome, you were right; but he’s an important poet. This selection will prove it, and show you where to start appreciating perhaps the most remarkable poet of our time.

2 comments to “Selecting Jeremy Reed”

  • Robert

    28.06.22

    This collection seems even more elusive than Jeremy himself! Is it still in the publication pipeline?

  • Grevel

    04.07.22

    Yes – I’m as frustrated as you must be! Enitharmon Press’s poetry arm went bust, so I had to find another publisher, which took over a year. At last we were signed up with Shoestring, and the book was ready to go for typesetting in June 2022. But I needed to discuss cover, blurb, author photos, promotion etc with Jeremy, and after weeks of unanswered letters, emails and phone calls I learned via a Facebook friend that Jeremy had been seriously ill and in hospital. He is now said to be recovering at a friend’s house but I have no way of communicating with him and so the project is on hold until I can consult him again. When I can contact Jeremy once more we may get it moving again. Meanwhile I recommend chasing up his earlier publications second hand and online. Many thanks for your interest!

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