Poetic Artifice

by Simon Collings

I’ve just reviewed for Stride the new edition of Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s Poetic Artifice which Shearsman has just published, with notes by Gareth Farmer. The book was originally issued in 1978, three year’s after Forrest-Thomson’s death in 1975 at the age of 27.  Jeremy Prynne supervised her PhD at Cambridge, and his influence is evident in her work. There is an assumption, for example, in Poetic Artifice that poetry is capable of achieving a kind of spiritual synthesis which reaches beyond ordinary language, a belief Prynne held in the late 1960s.  I have also been reading the festschrift, For the Future, edited by Ian Brinton, which Shearsman published to mark Prynne’s 80th birthday in June this year. As I worked through the essays, most of them by former Prynne students recalling practical criticism tutorials, the influence of Olson, and the debates in the pages of The English Intelligencer, the absence of a contribution from Veronica Forrest-Thomson felt poignant.