Don't Ask Me What I Mean

Don Paterson

Clare Brown

05 January 2012
256 pages


Don’t Ask Me What I Mean is a comprehensive guide to the last fifty years of British poetry –written by the poets themselves. In this collection of short essays, published in celebration of the golden anniversary of the Poetry Book Society, the reader will find Philip Larkin writing on The Whitsun Weddings, Louis MacNeice on The Burning Perch, Paul Muldoon on the etymology of ‘quoof’, Carol Ann Duffy on difficulties with gonks and Simon Armitage on the Dead Sea scrolls – as well as rare contributions from Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Kingsley Amis, R. S. Thomas, Andrew Motion, U. A. Fanthorpe, Jo Shapcott, Geoffrey Hill, Michael Donaghy, Elizabeth Jennings and many, many others. Together these statements give an intellectually dazzling, candid and deeply personal account of a turbulent and fascinating period in -our recent literary history. They will also afford the reader a unique insight into some of the most remarkable minds of our time.
‘A sparklingly perceptive, intellectually lively, delightfully quirky and, above all, profoundly personal portrait of recent literary history’ The Times
‘The tone is by turns sheepish, apologetic, hesitant, and even mildly cantankerous. In short, this book contains some of the best and most engagingly human prose about the agonies and travails of writing poems that I have read in a long time’ Financial Times