Thursday, 11 March 2010

infinite difference

I’ve spent a goodly part of these last two weeks at poetry readings in London: all of them well worth the return ticket. Last night’s launch of Infinite Difference however was the crowning glory. The subtitle of Carrie Etter’s anthology, ‘Other Poetries by UK Women Poets’ refers to Ric Caddel and Peter Quartermain’s 1999 anthology, Other: British and Irish Poetry Since 1970, in that ‘other’ here doesn’t mean ‘alien’ or even ‘oppositional’, just poetry that of its nature has not found a comfortable place in the shortlists or the weekly literary supplements. Etter’s introduction deals succinctly with the question occasionally asked: ‘why another collection focussing on women?’ The paradox of the last few decades is that while a number of women poets have been more or less ‘admitted to the canon’ the alternative poetry scene seemed to be run largely by men. When Reality Street put out its 1996 anthology Out of Everywhere it was making a long overdue statement. Things have undoubtedly improved since then but the test of whether an anthology should go ahead should still be the commitment and desire of the editor(s) and the poets included. Out of Everywhere was reissued a couple of years ago but there was clearly a need for a new gathering and Infinite Difference takes on the task magnificently. Of the twenty-five poets included, fourteen read last night to a packed Swedenborg Hall and Tony Frazer’s suitcase would have gone home to Exeter considerably lighter. The readers were Sascha Akhtar, Isobel Armstrong, Caroline Bergvall, Andrea Brady, Claire Crowther, Catherine Hales, Frances Kruk, Rachel Lehrman, Redell Olson, Frances Presley, Sophie Robinson, Lucy Sheerman, Zoë Skoulding, and Harriet Tarlo. Here are photos of some of them together with Marianne Morris (a contributor herself)’s fine cover.

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