Selvage: Andy Brown

I’m currently tucking into ‘In their own words’ (2012 Salt). Edited by Helen Ivory and George Szirtes, this is fascinating but mixed bag of short (4 -5 page essays) from a selection of contemporary poets. I’m curious to know much more about how other writers might consciously construct their public poet self and if they are able to articulate what drives them to write poetry or how they make choices in /about their writing.

Andy Brown’s essay ‘Selvage’ is the most thought-provoking essay so far. For him, writing poetry and poetic language exist on a ‘shoreline’ between the boundaries of the real and the imagined. The frustrations and pleasures of writing are never far way in this ever shifting landscape. He concludes that ‘poetry is something that happens at the edge of the known self’. He conveys the sense that there is a limit to how much poetry can be controlled or willed into being by the writer and, in doing so, captures something of the elusiveness and the unpredictable nature of the act of writing poetry.



  1. Oh yes… and how deep do you dare go when you start paddling? and what about the undertow? I shall have to get this book for myself, I think. Thanks for reminding me about it.


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