Alan Halsey
Introduction
West House Anthology
 
 
The poets whose work appears in this anthology have all been published by my West House imprint since its inception in 1994. Although a number of the contributors have worked closely with each other over a long period and some have published collaborations West House has never sought to represent a particular group or school of poets. The common ground is perhaps a sheer and shared joy in making things with words tempered by a sense of the difficulties and dangers in doing any such thing – to find modes of writing which will negotiate the no-man’s-land between language as personal sometimes private expression and language as the tool of a political and cultural nexus in which ever more blatant dishonesties fuel an historical blackout. The need to say what we mean in an ambience in which very little means what it says, rarely and often accidentally. West House tries to find the most sympathetic form in which to publish this work, for its thrust is easily lost when the book is considered as mere text-container. I hope always to make books which are an active collaboration between author and editor, and some of the books have been collaborations with like-minded publishers.

These remarks can apply in only a limited way to the contributing poets who are long dead – although Cendrars might have his sympathies, and Beddoes too in his self-imposed largely silent exile. And Thomas Swan? Perhaps; without means of publication, lost in dream in a post-revolutionary England.

A few contributors have chosen to reprint texts published by West House while others have offered more recent work. I’ve been happy to include both. A checklist appears as an appendix.

Alan Halsey, Sheffield, October 2003