Harriet Monroe’s vision for Poetry was transatlantic: prior to its founding she wrote to over fifty poets, American and British, to solicit support. Ezra Pound responded from London predicting, paradoxically, a renaissance in American poetry, which he and Monroe effected with his work as our first (and so far only) foreign correspondent — and the publication in 1915 of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot, also living in England. Is it a coincidence that in the year of Poetry’s founding another recipient of her letter, the similarly named Harold Monro, started The Poetry Review there? Its aim, like ours, was to help “poets and poetry thrive” and to be open to “all schools and groups of poetry, not merely the fashionable or metropolitan.”
A century on, the two magazines, as well as British and American poetry, have grown closer and yet more distinct, as do most siblings over time. On the one hand, the Internet has made it easier than ever to discover poetry from another country, no matter where one lives. On the other, it often seems that American and British poets are writing in different languages, and for their own respective national audiences. As a result, an exciting or well-known poet on one side of the ocean may remain quite unknown on the other. Yet I wouldn’t suggest that there should be a convergence of our poetries, but rather of readers.
In 1923, Monroe took her first vacation from editing Poetry by going on a five-month trip to England and beyond. She met such poetry luminaries as Edith Sitwell, Richard Aldington, Arthur Waley — and Monro. In my own travels I met Maurice Riordan, who became editor of The Poetry Review around the time I was named editor of Poetry. We have conspired to inaugurate regular exchanges for our respective readers. Earlier this year, Riordan published a selection of work from our pages; this month we return the favor. And the work from The Poetry Review that follows is but the jewel in a crown: I’m devoting this issue to poetry from the United Kingdom, something we’ve not done for a decade. It’s a work in progress: entirely selected from unsolicited submissions, it is not meant to be comprehensive, or representative. Rather it is serendipitous and eccentric, like our magazines, like travel, and like poetry itself.
Don Share became the editor of Poetry in 2013. His books of poetry are Wishbone (2012), Squandermania (2007), and Union (2013, 2002). He is the co-editor of The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine (2012), and editor of Bunting's Persia (2012) and a critical edition of Basil Bunting's poems (2016). He...