Letter: Volumes of verse too slim today

Click to follow
Sir: Thank you for putting in a word or two for the plight of penurious poets (Letter from the Editor, 21 June). It's good that you praise the quality and readability of our work, comparing it favourably with that of prose writers, even one so prestigious as Martin Amis.

One reason, in my view, for the failure of contemporary poets to achieve huge sales is the craven attitude of publishers of poetry. Before the war, the poets were published in handsome octavo hard-cover editions at little less than the price of a novel; thus they were in the public eye - today they are shovelled into minuscule paperback editions at around a fiver and not many people buy them. Yet the favourite poets, like Hardy, Housman and Betjeman, sell in thousands continually. There's no aversion to poetry among the reading public.

JOHN BATE

Oxford

Comments