New Poetry Titles for 2007

David Lea looks at some major anniversaries, debuts and translations due in 2007

Publishers are, I think, inclined to make a little too much of anniversaries, but Faber can be forgiven for getting excited about two centenaries happening next year: those of Louis MacNeice in September and W. H. Auden in February. Auden is to be honoured with an attractive new edition of Another Time, the first volume of poetry which he published after his departure to America, and one which contains many of his best-known poems, including 'September 1, 1939.' The volume is dedicated to his lover, Chester Kallman. Auden fans will also be delighted to see a paperback edition of John Fuller's legendarily elusive W. H. Auden: A Commentary in April, a complete companion to the poet's work, containing notes and glosses to every published poem, play and libretto. Fuller's book was described as "magnificent" by Paul Muldoon, who must have been one of the few people lucky enough to have seen a copy of the hardback edition before it disappeared almost without trace. MacNeice will be commemorated with a nice new edition of his best and best-loved poem Autumn Journal as well as a repackaged Selected Poems.

Some important new collections from living poets are due to be published next year. From Carcanet the two big beasts (both due in February) are John Ashbery's A Worldly Country and Scotland's best-loved poet Edwin Morgan with A Book of Lives. Also in February, Faber will be publishing Paul Auster's Collected Poems in an attractive uniform edition with the already published Collected Prose and Collected Novels. Another writer who is as celebrated for her fiction as for her verse is Helen Dunmore, and her latest collection of poems, Glad of These Times, will appear from Bloodaxe in February.

The most notable debut collection of the year seems likely to be Daljit Nagra's Look We Have Coming to Dover! (Faber), the title poem of which, a mischievous reworking of Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach' from the point-of-view of an illegal immigrant, won the Forward Prize for 'Best Single Poem' in 2004. Another newcomer worth watching is Jenny Lewis, who appeared in the Oxford Poets 2000 anthology and whose first collection, Fathom, is coming out from Carcanet in May.

Turning to translations, January sees the publication of Simon Armitage's version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Faber) which preserves the highly alliterative character of the medieval original. Sir Ian McKellen will be reading Simon's version of Sir Gawain on Radio 4 in the week before Christmas. The translation highlight for me, though, will come in January, with the third edition of Michael Hamburger's translation of The Poems of Paul Celan (Anvil Press) which continues Hamburger's deep engagement with the work of Germany's greatest 20th-century poet and contains many new translations, as well as significant revisions of many of the translations already published. Also coming from Anvil (in May) is a very welcome translation (by Peter Dale) of Paul Valéry's 1922 collection Charmes. It has always seemed strange to me that a poet who wrote so little (and so well) should have such a small proportion of his work available in English.

Finally, in a book that is both a piece of poetry criticism and an excellent anthology of contemporary verse, Ruth Padel's The Poem and the Journey (and 60 Poems To Read Along the Way), published by Chatto and Windus, continues her mission to bring modern poetry, much of it (erroneously) considered 'difficult', to a wider audience and looks likely to be as popular as her earlier 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem.

 

David Lea works at the London Review Bookshop

For an on-going list of poetry titles due out in 2007, see New Poetry Titles.