J.H. Prynne is Britain’s leading late Modernist poet. His austere yet playful poetry challenges our sense of the world, not by any direct address to the reader but by showing everything in a different light, enacting slips and changes of meaning through shifting language.
Not since the late work of Ezra Pound and the Maximus series of Charles Olson have the possibilities of poetry been so fundamentally questioned and extended as they are in the life work of J.H. Prynne. When his Poems was first published in 1999, it was immediately acclaimed as a landmark in modern poetry. Four further collections were added to the second edition of Poems in 2005, followed by a further seven along with a group of uncollected poems to the third edition of Poems (2015).
The decade since Poems (2015) has been the most productive period of Prynne's life, with over thirty limited editions published between 2017 and 2023. To have added these to a fourth edition of Poems would have doubled the size of that volume. Poems 2016–2024 is therefore a separate, supplementary edition of his later work, including, except for minor corrections, the unchanged contents of 34 texts, from Each to Each (2017), written in 2016, to Hadn't Yet Bitten (2023), as well as the corrected 2023 text of At Raucous Purposeful (2022). The 26 Impromptus comprising Memory Working, originally published by Face Press in three separate editions in 2020 and 2021, appear here as a complete sequence.
Prynne's most productive decade has also seen the publication of three prose works, Graft and Corruption: Shakespeare's Sonnet 15 (2015/2016), Apophthegms (2017) and Whitman and Truth (2022), along with editions of Prynne's correspondence with Charles Olson (2017) and Douglas Oliver (2022). His two-volume Collected Prose is forthcoming from Oxford University Press (New York).
The View Contents List tab below links to a complete listing of the texts included in Poems 2016–2024.
'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)
'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
'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
'This book is one of the most inventive, intelligently experimental collected poems of the century.’ - Adam Phillips, Observer
‘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]
‘The place to start with Prynne is The White Stones (1969), one of the great volumes of postwar British verse. Poem after poem of quick, light, original perception re-frames the world with extraordinary freshness.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times [on the third edition of Poems]
'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)
‘Prynne is refractory yet astonishingly lucid. First poet of the world for some things.’ – John Kerrigan, Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year 2015)
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