© Image by Caroline Forbes

Anthony Thwaite

(b. 1930)

"Very intelligent, also witty, with a wide stretch of subject-matter and a great boldness" - Anthony Burgess

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These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Select bibliography

  • Home Truths, Marvell Press 1957 - out of print
  • The Owl in the Tree, Oxford University Press 1963 - out of print
  • Penguin Book of Japanese Verse, (co-editor with Geoffrey Brownas), Penguin 1964 / 1998
  • The Stones of Emptiness: Poems 1963-66, Oxford University Press 1967 - out of print
  • Penguin Modern Poets 18, (Al Alvarez, Roy Fuller, Anthony Thwaite), Penguin 1970 - out of print
  • Inscriptions, Oxford University Press 1973 - out of print
  • New Confessions, Oxford University Press 1974 - out of print
  • The English Poets: From Chaucer to Edward Thomas (editors Anthony Thwaite, Peter Porter), Secker & Warburg 1974 - out of print
  • Beyond the Inhabited World: Roman Britain (prose), André Deutsch 1976
  • A Portion for Foxes, Oxford University Press 1977 - out of print
  • Twentieth-Century English Poetry, Heinemann Educational 1978
  • Victorian Voices, Oxford University Press 1980 - out of print
  • Odyssey: Mirror of the Mediterranean, (with Roloff Beny), Thames & Hudson 1981
  • Telling Tales, Gruffyground Press 1983 (limited edition)
  • Poems 1953-1983, Secker & Warburg 1984
  • Poetry Today 1960-1984, Longman 1985
  • Letter from Tokyo, Hutchinson 1987
  • Collected Poems of Philip Larkin (editor), Faber and Faber 1988
  • Poems 1953-1988, Hutchinson 1989
  • Selected Letters of Philip Larkin (editor), Faber and Faber 1992
  • The Dust of the World, Sinclair-Stevenson 1994
  • Poetry Today: A Critical Guide to British Poetry 1960-1995, Longman in association with the British Council 1996
  • Selected Poems 1956-1996, Enitharmon Press 1997
  • Paeans for Peter Porter (editor), Bridgewater Press 1999
  • Anthony Thwaite in Conversation with Peter Dale and Ian Hamilton, Between the Lines 1999
  • A Different Country: New Poems (limited edition), Enitharmon Press 2000
  • A Move in the Weather, Enitharmon Press 2003
  • Anthony Thwaite Reading from his Poems, The Poetry Archive 2005
  • Collected Poems, Enitharmon 2007
  • Ruins of Time, Eland publishing 2006
  • John Skelton, Faber and Faber 2008
Anthony Thwaite (b. 1930) is deeply involved in English literary life; in addition to 15 volumes of his own poetry, he has been a publisher and literary editor of magazines such as The Listener and the New Statesman, and is an executor of the estate of Philip Larkin. He has an honorary D.Litt from the University of Hull, and was made an OBE in 1990. His is also an international outlook; he has lectured at universities worldwide, including Japan and Libya (where he spent his military service), and he is the co-editor of The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse. He lives in Norfolk.

This history of travel makes itself known in the poems; the impromptu test of his Japanese and great evocation of jet-lag in 'Cockroach Story' is an example of this, as is the fascination in the graffitied Libyan potsherd in 'Sigma'. As would be expected from someone who describes himself as an "archaeologist manqué", Thwaite is often drawn to a striking object or fragment - the terracotta head in 'The Return', for example - from which an epiphany seems to spill out naturally. His archaeological exhibition, 'A Poet's Pots', was shown in Norwich in 1998.

The attention to objects does not mean there is any lack of people in his poetry - Louis MacNeice and Philip Larkin have cameo parts, and various family members appear, such as the memory of his father (in 'My Father's Poems'), or his daughter drifting out of the rock concert in 'Called For'. Poetry itself is another theme, as some of the poems on this recording worry away at the idea of themselves, such as 'Simple Poem', or 'Tune'.

Thwaite reads in a voice that is clear, poised and firm, with poetic effects audible but not exaggerated (although he is perfectly happy to do the accents when the poems demand) and introduces many of the poems to explain inspirations and contexts. He even admits which is his favourite poem from his own body of work, a sign of the welcoming nature of this showcase of poems that the poet Vernon Scannell has described as "unflashy, honest, scrupulously chiselled work".

His recording was made on 12 March 2003 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.


1967 Richard Hillary Memorial Prize The Stones of Emptiness: Poems 1963-66

1984 Cholmondeley Award

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