Contemporary poets: 5 Peter Reading

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The Independent Culture
Born in 1946, Peter Reading has published several acclaimed collections, including C (the horrors of cancer), Perduta Gente (life among down-and-outs), and, earlier this year, Evagatory (terminal anxiety about the planet). His is a poetry not of single lyrics but of narratives told through different voices. His concern with contemporary British gunge and grot is one for which the poem opposite offers an implicit apologia.

To the Editor

The Editor, the Times Lit Supp, Dear Sir,

I feel compelled to say that your reviewer

disgusts me by his praise of one P Reading.

I have to wonder whether yr reviewer

can recognise a poem when he sees one]

He quotes the words 'All that remains, the stench

of excrement' and calls it a 'one-line poem'.

Is this obtuseness or some obscure joke?

Reading's preoccupations (burger boxes,

shit, Coke tins, punches in the guts, etc)

are 'powerful, moving, and original' -

so yr reviewer thinks. Well, Heaven help us]

Disgust with yr reviewer is exceeded

by pity for P Reading. Poor P Reading]

Given the gift of life, with beauty, colour,

sensations, movement, forms - all he can see

is ugliness, brutality and squalor.

Your chap would have done better to suggest

a course of psycho-therapy than to flatter

this 'poet' by noticing his grotesque portrayal

of 'municipal sewers'. And, by the way,

I dare say many readers beside myself

are tired of meaningless, crude, incoherent

effusions which you ofttimes offer us

under the guise of 'poetry'. It's time

someone protested at this sunken level

of taste and judgement in the 'literature'

you are purveying. I remain yrs truly,

'Offended Sensibility', Evesham.

(Photograph omitted)