This volume is a new annotated edition of J.H. Prynne’s 1983 poem The Oval Window, making use of photographs taken by the poet at the time and place of composition, together with a substantial portfolio supplied by him of source and reference material. This source material includes political and economic news published during the period in early autumn 1983 when the poem was written, together with extracts from literature, Eastern and Western philosophy, optics, anatomy, computer programming language, and a considerable quantity of ancient Chinese poetry.
The edition has two commentary essays: the first primarily concerned with approaches to reading, including the use of search engines, and with the relations between different elements in the work, and the second with the topography and the critical antecedents of the poem. For ease of reading, a clean reading text is included as well as the annotated text.
The expanded third edition of Prynne's Poems (2015) was published by Bloodaxe in 2015.
‘Readers who feel strangely at home in The Waste Land will want to explore the splendid new annotated edition of J H Prynne’s 1983 poem The Oval Window. An intensely modernist mosaic of voices, from Chinese poetry to computer programming, it is also profoundly moving.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times (Summer Verse)
‘Prynne is refractory yet astonishingly lucid. First poet of the world for some things.’ – John Kerrigan, Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year 2015)
‘Poems is a vast slab of a thing, but its luminous and unsettling poems richly repay the attention they demand.’ – David Wheatley, Guardian [on the third edition of Poems]
'Without doubt the most formidable and accomplished poet in England today, a writer who has single-handedly changed the vocabulary of expression.’ – Peter Ackroyd, The Times
'This book is one of the most inventive, intelligently experimental collected poems of the century.’ - Adam Phillips, Observer
'J.H. Prynne’s Poems is a collection, thirty years in the making, in which the language is both astonishing and inevitable. Such a level of intelligence, control and risk is shocking.’ – lain Sinclair, Independent on Sunday (Books of the Year)
'Prynne presents a body of work of staggering audacity and authority such that the map of contemporary poetry already begins to look a little different.' – Roger Caldwell, TLS
'The longer I have stayed with these pieces, the more they have moved and haunted me; the more I have felt altered by having experienced them…Prynne is hard-going, off-putting, and much disliked by many more traditional writers; he is also, when one gets into him, so good that he changes the way you think and feel.’ – Robert Potts, Guardian (Books of the Year)