The Star You Steer By

Basil Bunting and British Modernism


This book explores Basil Bunting’s continued reputation and influence in modern British poetry, and also the impact of a peculiarly ‘Northern’ inflection of Modernism (which Bunting largely defined) within the varieties of poetry being written in Britain today. The editors asked a variety of English, Scottish, Welsh and American poets and academics to reflect upon the themes, implications, impact or example of Bunting’s work in the centenary year of his birth, looking back on the beginnings of Modernism at the start of the twentieth century into which he was born, or forward into the twenty-first century in which he continues to be read and learned from: a true poetic star to steer by.
The resulting collection of fourteen new essays reveals the continued ability of Bunting’s poetry both to delight and to challenge. Topics covered include the nature of influence; Celtic and Northumbrian contexts for the modern English long poem; prosodic patterns in early Bunting; Bunting as a reader of his own work; narrative sources in his poetry; the problem of patronage; his ‘rueful masculinity’; women poets and Bunting; radical landscape poetry; his translations from the Persian Hafiz and the Roman Horace; economic and social tensions in his work; the poet as ‘makar’; and a previously unpublished selection of his letters from the 1960s to the 1980s, commenting upon his own and others’ poetry and on the political condition of Britain in those years.
The collection will be of interest to teachers and readers of twentieth century English and American poetry, and to those exploring the processes of literary translation. Contributors include David Annwn, Richard Caddel, Roy Fisher, Victoria Forde, Harry Gilonis, Ian Gregson, Philip Hobsbaum, Parvin Loloi, James McGonigal, Richard Price, Glynn Pursglove, Harriet Tarlo, Gael Turnbull, and Jonathan Williams.

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”Interesting essays…splendid discussions…” in: English Studies, Vol. 84, No. 2, pp.166-7
“…a volume that charts admirably the importance of Bunting’s poetry. […] Warm feeling pervades these essay … and this balanced, varied collection forms a significant addition to a body of critical work that remains incommensurate to Bunting’s achievement.” in: MLR, 98.3, 2003
“…an excellent collection of essays, which makes a substantial contribution to the study of Bunting’s significance for twentieth-century British Literature.” in: Year’s Work in English Studies, Vol. 82.5, 2003
I “BRITISH’ MODERNISM Roy FISHER: Debt to Mr Bunting William WOOTTEN: Basil Bunting, British Modernism and the Time of the Nation Philip HOBSBAUM: Beyond the Iambic Norm: Prosodic Patterns in Early Bunting Richard CADDEL: Frankly on the Air: A Consideration of Bunting’s Readings II NEW READINGS AND NEW READERS James McGONIGAL: Bunting and Narrative: ‘Part of the Marvel’ Richard PRICE: Basil Bunting and the Problem of Patronage Ian GREGSON: ‘Adult Male of a Merciless Species’: Basil Bunting’s Rueful Masculinity David ANNWN: Her Pulse Their Pace: Women Poets and Basil Bunting Harriet TARLO: Radical Landscapes: Contemporary Poetry in the Bunting Tradition III BUNTING’S OTHER VOICES: ISSUES IN TRANSLATION Parvin LOLOI and Glynn PURSGLOVE: ‘The Worse for Drink Again’: Basil Bunting’s Translations from Hafiz Harry GILONIS: Soiled Mosaic: Bunting’s Horace Translations IV BUNTING IN PERSPECTIVE Victoria M. FORDE, S.C.: ‘Lines of Sound Drawn’ Across a Century: Basil Bunting’s Poetry as an Overview Gael TURNBULL: The Poet as Makar Jonathan WILLIAMS: Some Jazz from the Baz: The BuntingWilliams Letters Index