Grevel Lindop

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

Thank You, The Manhattan Review!

Today’s been a good day. Not only has the spring sunshine finally broken through after an winter of arctic rigour, but I got a wonderful letter this morning.

Chris McCabe of the Poetry Library on the South Bank wrote to say that he’s editing a special issue of that very fine New York magazine, The Manhattan Review [] . The issue is to be concerned with Liverpool and Manchester poets, and he and senior editor Philip Fried would like to include some of my work.

Nice cover image...

Nice cover image...

Wonderful! And the kind of thing that, as most poets except the very famous will know, doesn’t happen too often. Mostly poems are only published after endless repetitions of that ghastly grind of sending them out and getting them back with rejections, and then sending them out again… and so on. Most of us, most of the time, can’t face the dreary and humiliating task, so we lazily sit on unpublished work and hope for the best. Until someone else prods us into mailing the poems out yet again. Personally, I hate doing it. It’s a chore, with the likelihood of disappointment at the end of it.

So how wonderful to be actually asked to submit work! Better still, these wonderful editors said that they already had two earlier poems of mine (which they kindly termed ‘classics’ – though I think that was just a kind way of saying they’d been around for a while) and wanted to republish those anyway.

And that was what really warmed my heart above all. One of these poems – I won’t name it, as I imagine the editors want to keep a bit of suspense for the magazine’s publication day – was written back in the 1970s. In those days I never asked myself whether a poem of mine would last in any sense: I was too excited to get it published somewhere. But just a few times over the years, someone has wanted to republish a poem of mine written decades ago – 25, 35 years back – and the delight of feeling that something has actually lasted a little bit, has gone on living after its immediate occasion, is quite intense.

I don’t have vast ambitions for my work. I grew out of dreaming about the Nobel Prize a long time ago. Nowadays I’m content just to enjoy myself in my poems, craft something I think is nicely-made, and hope to play a very small part in handing on the traditions of poetry in good shape to the future (when, my intuition tells me, poetry is going to be needed very urgently indeed as the world undergoes drastic change).

But the sense that something has lasted through a generation, that it still looks good to someone coming on it freshly, is a source of great happiness. So Thank You, editors of The Manhattan Review, and may your magazine never be short of great work to publish!

Meanwhile I’m getting ready to go down (or should that be up?) to Oxford, where I’m reading in a spoken word event as part of the Oxford Folk Festival Fringe tomorrow, Friday 5th (click the ‘Latest News’ button at the top of this page for further information). If you’re in Oxford, it would be great to see you there, so do come along and introduce yourself.

Back in Manchester on Saturday 6th for a reading with Myra Schneider, John Killick and others (again, click Latest News for the full details). Hope to see you at one or other of these if you can make it.