© Image by Caroline Forbes

Tom Raworth

(b. 1938)

"I'm fascinated by what he's doing. He's an extraordinary poet" (Robert Creeley)

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

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Select bibliography

  • The Relation Ship Goliard / Cape Goliard 1966 - out of print
  • The Big Green Day, Trigram Press 1968 - out of print
  • Lion Lion, Trigram Press 1970 - out of print
  • Moving, Cape Goliard 1971 - out of print
  • Act, Trigram Press 1973 - out of print
  • Writing, The Figures 1982 - out of print
  • Visible Shivers, O Books 1987
  • Catacoustics, Reality Street 1991
  • Eternal Sections, Sun and Moon 1993
  • Clean & Well-Lit, Roof Books 1996
  • Etruscan Reader v5 (Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Tom Leonard), Etruscan Books 1997
  • Tottering State: Selected Poems, O Books 2000
  • Ace, Edge Books 2001 (1974, 1977)
  • Collected Poems, Carcanet 2003
  • Poems, Optic Nerve 2004
  • Writing: Poems 1980-2003, Contemporary Poetics Research Centre 2005
  • Tom Raworth Reading from his Poems, The Poetry Archive 2005
  • The Caller and Other Pieces, Edge Books 2006
  • Let Baby Fall, Critical Documents 2008
  • Earn Your Milk: Collected Prose, Salt Publishing 2008
  • Windmills in Flames: Old and New Poems Carcanet Press Ltd, 2010
Tom Raworth (b. 1938), in addition to a career that includes being the editor of Outburst magazine, founder of the Goliard Press, and an artist whose shows have been seen in galleries in Europe and America, is a prolific poet, with over forty books and pamphlets published since 1966. Born in London, he has travelled widely and lived in both the USA and Mexico before returning to Britain, settling in Cambridge, where he has been Poet in Residence to Kings College, Cambridge; he has also received the Alice Hunt Bartlett prize, the Cholmondeley Award, and Arts Council funding for his writing. His Collected Poems were published by Carcanet in 2003.

His poetry's subject matter ranges widely, including self-reflexive poems that discuss their own creation - "i remove i and a colon from two lines above" in 'The Moon Upoon the Waters' to the loving farewell in 'You Were Wearing Blue', from elegiac fragments such as 'In Memoriam Ludwig Wittgenstein' to political engagements in poems like 'Human Warmth' or 'Nothing'. Formally, while Raworth is not often given to familiar forms or full-rhyme, he will often shape his poems with stanzas or structural systems that counterpoint the flow of the poem.

That flow is a fast one, a stream of images interlinking and resonating off one another; in Raworth's work, it is not the place of the poet to extrapolate intelligible meanings from these for a listener, the speaker in 'Wedding Day' insisting that "i made this pact, intelligence / shall not replace intuition". It is to this end that each image rapidly takes the place of its predecessor, too fast to work out an intellectual response completely, and his delivery is rapid to match - not at any point unclear, simply committed to what he calls, in 'The Vein', "the requisite speed" - and exhilarating to attend to.

Raworth introduces the CD with a brief preface to his history and style, but not the poems - he finds individual introductions "at worst tedious and at best more interesting than the poems that follow" - and they need none. Robert Creeley has said "I'm fascinated by what he's doing. He's an extraordinary poet"; this is an extraordinary reading.

His recording was made on 18 April 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.


1966 Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize

1972 Cholmondeley Award

1999 Poetry Skipper Gold Medal (Italy)

2002 Philip Whalen Memorial Award

2007 Antonio Delfini prize for lifetime achievement

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