Friday, 14 October 2011

3 poets to watch

When I wondered about which poets were underestimated, 3 names came straight to mind. It's perhaps unfair to single them out, but I can see why I grouped them together. All these poets have a body of work behind them, and depth as well as breadth. They've already achieved a measure of fame, and their names crop up in various contexts. I've met them and I've heard them read their poems.

Emma Danes

She used to be a member of Cambridge Writers and often attended our monthly meetings. New members sometimes start with a good poem or 2 then tail off. She kept delivering excellent poems. She appears in "Best British Poetry 2011". She's not published a book or pamphlet yet (though she's come close to winning pamphlet competitions - shortlisted in the tall-lighthouse pamphlet competition.).

I don't think she frequents the physical and virtual haunts of poets and publishers. She doesn't even have a web page. Perhaps her work tackles too few topics? Perhaps she's too busy doing other things? Time's on her side though.

Peter Daniels

At home I have a stapled heap of photocopies, the cover page saying "PETER DANIELS Seminars for Nomads". My guess is that his mother gave me this a decade or 2 ago. An early poem in the pamphlet is "A video of my father" (his father was a Cambridge Stats prof). He's an experienced poet with an impressive list of credentials. As it says on his web page "He has won first prize in the 2010 TLS Poetry Competition, and before that he won the 2008 Arvon competition, the 2003 Ledbury competition, and was twice a winner in the Poetry Business pamphlet competition."

He writes that "When I won the 2008 Daily Telegraph Arvon International Poetry Competition, Book Brunch referred to me as a "hitherto unknown poet" yet he's published "Peacock Luggage" in 1992 (Smith/Doorstop, he has 50% of the book - maybe my photocopies; Alvi has the rest), "Be Prepared" in 1994 (Smith/Doorstop), "Blue Mice" in 1999 (Vennel Press), "Through the Bushes" in 2000 (Smith/Doorstop, again through their competition), and "Mr Luczinski Makes a Move" in 2011 (HappenStance Press). Maybe he suffers from having published pamphlets rather than books, or not being in quite the right place at the right time. He took a break from writing, which may not have helped. He's London-based and he networks.

He's been involved with editing and creative writing - an MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, plus involvement with Bow-wow and Poetry London Newsletter. He's involved with translating, Quakers, Jewish, and gay poetry, so he may be able to exploit niche markets unavailable to the other 2 poets I mention here. He's older than the other 2, but that might not be a problem - well over a decade ago I recall his mother (about 80 then) regretting having to give up her upholstery evening classes, though she was still going to read a French novel a month. If Peter Daniels has those genes his best years might be ahead, and he has an impressive back catalogue to draw on.

Judy Brown

I was on the same Smiths Knoll weekend workshop as her a few years ago. She's in "Best British Poetry 2011" and "Identity Parade". She's published a pamphlet - "Pillars of Salt", (2006, Templar Poetry) and a book "Loudness" (Seren; Shortlisted in the The Forward Prizes for Poetry 2011). She also won the Poetry London competition in 2009. She's been a lawyer, and spends some of her time in London. She has a page on poetry pf. She was involved with Magma, so has contacts in the trade. This might be her breakthrough year.


So why aren't they better known? They're all mainstream (and I suppose rather unadventurous far as poetic styles are concerned) so they're in a crowded marketplace - they have no unique selling points. On average they're roughly my age - too young (or late maturing) for Next Gen; too old to be part of the current new generation. They all have other things to do - they can't pop off and be a writer-in-residence for a year, or drift around until a creative writing tutorship becomes available.

I think all the 3 poets I've mentioned should be at least as well known as some well established poets. Maybe some of the 3 already are recognised as such by those who matter. We'll see.


  1. An important post, both for the poets and readers. Thanks for doing this.

  2. I've just reread Peter Daniels' latest pamphlet. It's very accomplished and very readable.

  3. ".. It's very accomplished and very readable" - I'd say more so than the work of, say, Owen Sheers or Caroline Smith. Perhaps it's just that there are many accomplished and readable poets around, so you have to be lucky and/or determined if you're going to be the sort of writer who's asked to judge, read at festivals, etc.

  4. I'm getting a bit more determined. That's what makes the luck possible, really.

  5. I have twice been nearly knocked off my chair by the effect of poems by Judy Brown. I can't remember which poems they were, but I can remember they were by her.

    When Peter Daniels sent me a pamphlet proposal for HappenStance, I couldn't understand why he didn't already have a book in print, because he is so obviously good. In fact, if anyone had asked me about him, I would have said he HAD because I've been reading him for years knowing he was an accomplished and experienced poet.

    If people as good as Peter find it difficult to get a book of poems accepted, it explains why lesser mortals sometimes feel it is impossible.