The New Imagination

by Laurie Smith for Magma Poetry

I want to suggest that the poetic imagination is currently undergoing radical change and that, if poets are attentive to this, it will lead to poetry of greater strength, variety and influence than Britain has seen for nearly 200 years. I will consider why the change is happening now, its causes and possible consequences, and therefore the conditions in which the writing of great poetry can be nurtured. In effect, I am attempting to sketch a theory of the poetic imagination and, sensing scepticism about whether this is possible, recall J M Keynes’ comment that economists who dislike theory, or claim to get along better without it, are simply in the grip of an older theory. This is likely to be true of readers and writers of poetry too.

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