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Tom Raworth  [ United Kingdom ]

Biography

Tom Raworth Portrait
© privat

Guest 2003, 2002.

Bibliography

Weapon Man
Goliard Press
London, 1965

The Relation Ship
Goliard Press
London, 1966
Ill: Barry Hall

Haiku
[mit John Esam, Anselm Hollo]
Trigram Press
London, 1968

The Big Green Day
Trigram Press
London, 1968
Ill: Jim Dine

Lion Lion
Trigram Press
London, 1970

Moving
Cape Goliard
London, 1971
Ill: Joe Brainard

Tracking
Doones Press, Bowling Green
Ohio, 1972

Here
Bowling Green
Ohio, 1972

Pleasant Butter
Blue Big Press
Paris/Northampton, 1972

Betrayal
Trigram Press
London, 1972

Act
Trigram Press
London, 1973

Back to Nature
Joe DiMaggio
London, 1973

From the Hungarian
Bowling Green
Ohio, 1973

An Interesting Picture of Ohio
Bowling Green
Ohio, 1973

Ace
Goliard Press
London, 1974
Ill: Barry Hall

Bolivia
Secret Books
London, 1974

Cloister
Blue Pig
Paris/Northampton, 1975

Common Sense
Zephyrus Image
San Francisco, 1976
Ill: Michael Myers

The Mask
Poltroon Press
Berkeley, 1976
Ill: Alastaire Johnston~

Logbook
Poltroon Press
Berkeley, 1977
Ill: Frances Butler

Four Door Guide
Street Edition
Cambridge, 1978

Sky Tails
Lobby Press
London, 1978

Nicht wahr, Rosie?
Poltroon Press
Berkeley, 1979

Writing
The Figures
Berkeley, 1982

Levre de Poche
Bull City Press
Durham, 1983

Heavy Light
Actual Size Press
London, 1984

Tottering State: Selected Poems 1963-1984
The Figures
London, 1984

Lazy Left Hand
Actual Size Press
London, 1986

Visible Shivers
O Books
Oakland, 1987

Sentenced he Gives a Shape
Zasterle Press
Teneriffa, 1989

All Fours
Microbrigade
London, 1991

Catacoustics
Street Editions
Cambridge, 1991

The Vein
The Figures
Massachusetts, 1992

Blue Screen
Equipage
Cambridge, 1992

Eternal Sections
Sun and Moon Press
Los Angeles, 1993

Survival
Equipage Press
Cambridge, 1994

Emptily
The Figures
Massachusetts, 1994

Clean and Well Lit: Selected Poems 1987-1995
Roof Books
New York, 1996

Collected Poems
Carcanet
Manchester, 2003

Übersetzer: Hans-Jürgen Balmes

Tom Raworth was born in London in 1938. His sixth birthday, he says, he spent making mice of candle wax in an air-raid shelter. After breaking off his schooling in 1954 he managed to get through by means of odd jobs. In 1970 he got an MA after completing his university course in the translation of literary texts which he had begun in 1967. From 1959 to 1967 he published the literary magazine 'Outburst'. He founded the publishing company 'Matrix Press' and, together with Barry Hall, the 'Goliard Press'. During the seventies he travelled, worked and lived in the USA and Mexico.  From 1977 to 1978 he was 'Poet in Residence' at King’s College, Cambridge, where he has since been living with his family.

Straight away with the publication of his first volume of lyric poetry Tom Raworth succeeded in achieving a literary breakthrough: 'The Relation Ship' (1966) was awarded the 'Alice Hunt Bartlett Prize', at that time the highest honour in England for lyric poetry.  Since 1966 he has published, besides translations, more than forty volumes of prose and lyric poetry in England, the USA, France and Italy.  Raworth’s creativity is, however, not limited to writing: he has worked intensively with musicians, photographers and painters and set up performances together with other poets. Since 1984 there have also been exhibitions of his paintings, illustrations and collages almost every year.

The US-American poet Robert Creely has said of him: "Tom Raworth is that person who in England at the moment is for me really the most interesting. I am fascinated by what he does.  He is an extraordinary poet." Apparently it is the unique mixture of humour, tragedy, lightness, subversiveness and intellect which makes Raworth’s work so extraordinary.

This can be seen in 'Tottering State' (2000), the third edition of a selection of poems from the period 1963-1987.  The forty-page poem 'Writing', for example, which is included in this volume, challenges the reader to combine the two columns into which the poem is divided throughout and which can, therefore, be varied endlessly.  The actual poem created by the reader is a different one each time.  The reading through changeable associations is at one with the act of 'Writing'.

The driving force behind Raworth’s lyric poetry is the opposition against any form of artificial convention, even his own.  This opposition, however, is neither a pose or a mannerism, but rather that which prevents any stagnation either in language or content: "as in the progress of art the aim is finally/to make rules the next generation can break more cleverly" (from: 'South America'). With the English concept of "wit" one can best describe how Raworth’s lyric poetry goes about in a subversive and ironic way under-mining language and meaning.

In 2003, on his 65th birthday, his collected poems are due to appear – and yet Tom Raworth has no wish to be a "respectable poet". He continues to avoid both using rather large publishing companies and also any contact with the established literary scene in England.

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[http://tomraworth.com/]