Gunn's work illustrates the debates poetry in English has pursued in this century - form versus improvization, diction versus talk, the American way versus the English tradition, and even, at times, authenticity versus art.
Thom Gunn's controlled used of form and the metaphysical was in evidence from his first collection, Fighting Terms, in 1954, which was widely regarded - perhaps not entirely accurately - as a contributor to 'The Movement' and the opposition to modernism. The same technical ability and formal prowess endured after he moved from Cambridge to San Francisco, though became, from The Sense of Movement (1959) onwards, shot through with a new mood of hedonism, freedom and the excesses of the gay and counter-cultural scenes of 1960s America in poems written in celebration of rock and roll, myth, and hallucinogenic drugs. The '80s saw a shift in this life with the devastation of the Aids epidemic, which claimed the lives of a number of Gunn's friends. Many of these friends are memorialised in the moving, passionate and humane collections of his later years; the Forward Prize-winning The Man With the Night Sweats, and Boss Cupid, Gunn's last collection, published in 2000. This Selected Poems, compiled by his friend Clive Wilmer and accompanied by insightful notes, serves to honour a true original, a thrill-seeker in the language, and to exhibit the best of Thom Gunn's electric, powerful, intensely joyful poems.
A new selection of poems by the celebrated gay poet Thom Gunn has been described as “one of the most singular and compelling poets in English during the past half-century” (Times Literary Supplement). Gunn was an Elizabethan poet in modern guise, though there’s nothing archaic, quaint, or sepia-toned about his poetry. His method was dispassionate and rigorous, uniquely well suited for making a poetic record of the tumultuous time in which he lived. Gunn’s dozens of brilliantly realized poems about nature, friendship, literature, sexual love, and death are set against the ever-changing backdrop of San Francisco—the druggy, politically charged sixties and the plague years of AIDS in the eighties. Perhaps no contemporary poet was better equipped—by temperament, circumstance, or poetic gift—to engage the subjects of eros and thanatos than Thom Gunn. This New Selected Poems, compiled by his friend Clive Wilmer and accompanied by insightful notes, is the first edition to represent the full arc of Gunn’s inimitable career.
Evaluates the writer's controversial influence as a critic and teacher, noting his use of the natural world as well as personal subjects in his poetry, in a collection that is comprised of his free early works through his later meditative neoclassical pieces.
In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to some of the greatest poets of our literature. Thom Gunn (1929-2004) was educated at Cambridge University, and had his first collection of poems, Fighting Terms, published while still an undergraduate. He moved to northern California in 1954 and taught in American universities until his death. His last collection was Boss Cupid (2000).
Along with his childhood friend Sir Philip Sidney, Fulke Greville (1554–1628) was an important member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Although his poems, long out of print, are today less well known than those of Sidney, Spenser, or Shakespeare, Greville left an indelible mark on the world of Renaissance poetry, both in his love poems, which ably work within the English Petrarchan tradition, and in his religious meditations, which, along with the work of Donne and Herbert, stand as a highpoint of early Protestant poetics. Back in print for a new generation of scholars and readers, Thom Gunn’s selection of Greville’s short poems includes the whole of Greville’s lyric sequence, Caelica, along with choruses from some of Greville’s verse dramas. Gunn’s introduction places Greville’s thought in historical context and in relation to the existential anxieties that came to preoccupy writers in the twentieth century. It is as revealing about Gunn himself, and the reading of earlier English verse in the 1960s, as it is about Greville’s own poetic achievement. This reissue of Selected Poems of Fulke Greville is an event of the first order both for students of early British literature and for readers of Thom Gunn and English poetry generally.
The book contains an extended interview, a career sketch, and an updated version of Hagstrom and Bixby's comprehensive 1979 bibliography. It also contains several pages of quotations from Gunn's critics. Also included is Gunn's recent poem, Clean Clothes: a Soldier's Song. "This volume gives us an informative, friendly 42 page Q&A between Gunn and critic, biographer, and TLS eminence James Campbell, conducted in January 1999, after Gunn had completed what's his new book, Boss Cupid ... As usual, Gunn comes across as admirable: reserved about his private life, thoughtful about his principles. He's someone who's quite devoted to nightlife, to sex of course, to fun, and yet he's articulated a liveable moral stringency, and an entirely appealing way of connecting art to ethical choice ... It's dangerous to take anyone's life as exemplary - that must be one of the differences between people and poems - but Gunn's in some ways can seem so." Stephen Burt, 'Nightlife and Morality', Poetry Review, Summer, 2000