Collected Poems Complete Set
Forewords by Nerys Williams and Ian McMillan
Also available as individual volumes
“Finch’s legacy is to create substance from nothing, to defy our knowledge of decay and disappearance with vibrancy, sly humour and indefatigable energy... I hope [he] sells a million of these books." – Mark Blayney, Wales Arts Review
“The publication of his collected poems in two big juicy volumes will delight readers new and old” – Jenny White, Western Mail
“Since the early 1970s, Finch has been the principal innovator in Welsh poetry... he deserves a Welsh knighthood.” – Richard Kostelanetz, Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes
The two volumes of Peter Finch’s Collected Poems chart the course of a remarkable writing career. After reading Allen Ginsberg’s Howl as a young man Finch was inspired to become a poet, founded Second Aeon magazine and publishing house, and become a poetry entrepreneur, bringing to all these things an unquenchable vitality which set him apart in contemporary poetry.
Volume One makes available poems from long lost chapbooks, broadsheets and limited editions, as well as more conventionally published work. Here are concrete poems, sound poems, typographical poems, visual poems, poems in cartoon form or as crumpled photocopies. Whatever their form, Finch’s poems are always vivid and alive, pulsing with inventive energy. As he says himself, this is work which pushes the idea on until it breaks, flowers, or dissolves. It means that Finch’s writing can never be taken for granted.
Volume Two includes poems from the second half of Finch’s career, in which his poems also appeared in his prose books, and in the public realm on sculptures, walls and buildings particularly in his native Cardiff. Yet still the poems continued to ‘operate at the far edges of what poetry is understood to be’. Although the poetry landscape of Britain has changed since Finch’s first published poem in 1968, his desire to experiment, to question what constitutes a poem, and to challenge orthodoxy has remained both undiminished and relevant.
The Collected Poems is also a restless exploration of the ideas behind the poems. It is a testament to the experimental in literature, to ways of doing it differently, and to an alternative modernist culture in Wales and Britain. Consequently, invaluably, they also open a window on a poetry scene seemingly lost from view to the twenty-first century. They remind us that there was interesting and vital writing happening outside of what has now calcified into the canon of twentieth century British poetry. And that Finch was at its cutting edge.
Both volumes include informative Introductions from editor Andrew Taylor, timelines of Finch’s artistic activity, and helpful notes. The set is completed by appreciative and perceptive Forewords by poet Nerys Williams and Ian McMillan.
“For 40 years he has been the Welsh avant-garde, as inventive and as indispensable as he has been consistently undervalued and ignored... one of the few Welsh writers capable of entrancing young students with his verbal chutzpah, his Crazy Gang of words. Henffych, Peter: a hir oes eto i’ch egni ac i’ch dawn.” – M. Wynn Thomas