July 27, 2015
Lee Harwood [England]
Born Travers Rae Lee Harwood on June 6, 1939 in Leicester, England, Harwood’s father, a math teach, was called up for the military and stationed in Africa soon after his son’s birth.
Harwood studied English at Queen Mary College of the University of London from 1958-1961, and continued living in London for six years after graduating, working in the city as a mason’s mate, a librarian, and a bookshop assistant.
He quickly became involved with the British “Beat” scene, becoming involved in the editing of the single issue magazines Night Scene and Night Train. His own journal Tzarad, ran for three issues between 1965-1969, signalling a shift in British interest from the Beats to the New York School poets, a relationship to whom Harwood would have for the rest of his life.
During this same period, Harwood first became involved with translating books by Tristan Tzara, which appeared over the years in 6 volumes and a bibliography of the Romanian Dadaist.
In 1961, he married Jenny Goodgame, with he had a son, Blake, the following year. After their marriage ended, he met the photography Judith Walker while writing in residence at the Aegean School of Fine Arts in Paros, Greece. The couple married in 1974. Her photographs appear in his books Boston-Brighton and All the Wrong Notes. He and Walker bore a son, Rafe in 1977, and a daughter, Rowan in 1979.
In 1967, Harwood moved to Brighton, where he continued live for the rest of his life, with brief stays in Greece and the United States. As in London, Harwood took jobs in a number of different professions, working as a bookshop manager, a bus conductor, and a Post Office clerk. He also became deeply involved in the Labour Party during its most radical years and even ran (without success) in a local election. Predictably, during this period Harwood’s poetry contained strong political elements, particularly in All the Wrong Notes of 1981.
Harwood’s poetry, which he began publishing in the book title illegible in 1965, has often been compared to that of John Ashbery, whom he met in Paris in 1965. Harwood described his, own work, general grouped with the British Poetry Revival, as attempting to produce “an unfinished quality containing a mosaic of information.” Like several of the New York School writers, Harwood relied heavily on collage and procedures related to film and visual art. Particularly in the early works, his poems contained a quality of immediacy, including blocks of dialogue and direct observations. Some have noted that his later poems seemed more distanced and nuanced, although Morning Light (1998) and Evening Star (2004) bore deep resemblances to his early writing.
The British publisher Shearsman, published both his collected and selected poems. Harwood also published several prose and fictional works, including Wine Tales (1984), Dream Quilt (1985); Assorted Stories (1987), and a collection of interviews Not the Full Story (2008).
BOOKS OF POETRY
title illegible (London: Writers Forum, 1965); The Man with Blue eyes (New York: Angel Hair Books, 1966); The White Room (London: Fulcrum Press, 1968); The Beautiful Atlas (Brighton: Kavanagh, 1969); Landscapes (London: Fulcrum Press, 1969); The Sinking Colony (London: Fulcrum Press, 1969); work (with John Ashbery and Tom Raworth) included in Penguin Modern Poets 19 (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1971); Freighters (Newcastle, England: Pig Press, 1975); H.M.S. Little Fox (London Oasis Books, 1975); Boston-Brighton (London: Oasis Books, 1977); Old Bosham Bird Watch (Newcastle, England: Pig Press, 1977); Wish you where here (with Antony Lopez) (London: Transgravity Press, 1979); All the Wrong Notes (Durham, England: Pig Press, 1981); Faded Ribbons (Leamington Spa, England: Other Branch Readings, 1982); Monster Masks (Durham, England: Pig Press, 1985); Crossing the Frozen River: Selected Poems (London: Paladin, 1988); Rope Boy to the Rescue (Twickenham, England: North & South, 1988); Morning Light (London: Slow Dancer Press, 1998); Etruscan Reader Vi (with Robin Blaser and Barbara Guest) Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: Etruscan Books, 1998); The Causeway: Poems (Nottingham, England: Leafe Press, 1999); Collected Poems 1964-2004 (Exeter, England: Shearsman, 2004); Gifts Received: 6 poems to friends (Artery Editions, 2007); Selected Poems (Exeter, England: Shearsman, 2008); The Books (Swindon, England: Longbarrow Press, 2011); The Orchid Boat (London: Enitharmon Press, 2014)
For a poem by Lee Harwood, go here:
For another biography and a selection of Harwood poems, click here: