Poetry South 2020

CaptureBack in the halcyon days of South East Arts, an annual anthology of poetry from the region was published. The contents tended to reflect both the character and the proclivities of the editors, who collectively constitute a very heterogeneous (though almost exclusively male) group. Howard Sergeant, redoubtable editor of Outposts magazine, oversaw the first anthology in 1976. Poet and critic Laurence Lerner edited the second, and John Rice, founder of the Kent Literature Festival, the third. Patricia Beer was responsible for the 1979 edition and, by way of contrast, Barry MacSweeney edited Poetry South East 5. Patric Dickinson, Roger Crowley and Anthony Thwaite served as editors for the last three anthologies, which concluded with Poetry South East 8 in 1983. Numerous established and emerging poets from the region (and occasionally elsewhere) featured in their pages, among them Elizabeth Bartlett, Judith Kazantzis, Peter Redgrove and Ken Smith.

In 2000 the Frogmore Press, then based in Folkestone, revived the series with Poetry South East 2000, which launched in Lewes with readings by Ros Barber, Catherine Smith and Dan Wyke. A second anthology appeared ten years later, edited by Jeremy Page and Catherine Smith, and this year saw the publication of Poetry South East 2020, which includes work by poets from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, including John Agard, Brendan Cleary, Sasha Dugdale, Patricia McCarthy, John McCullough, Grace Nichols and Jackie Wills.

The anthology also features a number of survivors from the original series: John Arnold, Ian Caws, John Rice and Derek Sellen. Covid has prevented a launch of this collection of work by some of the most notable poets from the region, but copies are available post free for £7.50 from:

The Frogmore Press, 21 Mildmay Road, Lewes BN7 1PJ. Payment can be made by cheque, or email frogmorepress@gmail.com for details of how to pay byPayPal or BACS.

Jeremy Page


HIS PLANE                                                                                                                  

i.m. Eric Ravilious 1903 – 1942

And as his plane descends
Ravilious knows
Not cold and ice and snows
Now that his short life ends

But a view of the Downs,
A flint wall, the tea set
On a table, sunset
Over Sussex, sees towns

He used to know, a white
World full of his designs,
Those watercolour lines,
His way with English light.

He turns his inward eye
To green hills, blue rivers.
The plane stalls and shivers,
Drops out of the blank sky.

Ravilious flies

Straight into a landscape

Full of colour and shape.

Somewhere a seagull cries.

John O’Donoghue

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