Basil Bunting (1900-1985)

“Basil Bunting and Allen Ginsberg in Tom and Connie Pickard’s flat, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, 22 May, 1965.

Allen Armstrong writing in the Sunday Sun 23 May 1965 described the scene: ‘Mr Bunting, a Newcastle journalist, and one of Britain’s foremost modern poets, was sitting at the time, on the settee next to Ginsberg. America’s original “Angel-headed hipster” flopped forward and lay with his head in Bunting’s lap. He giggled. Bunting smiled. The young admirers laughed” (Basil Bunting: A Northern Life, Richard Caddel and Anthony Flowers, New Castle Libraries, 1997)

England’s great literary modernist, Basil Bunting was born on this day.

Allen: “I’ve taken his model syntactical swiftness as corrective of my own “too many words”. The story of their legendary Mordern Tower meeting can be read here. A consummate sonic poet, as well as a poet of condensare, pith and precision, the poems benefit from being heard (hence, the sounding available above – and also, the invaluable gathering of materials at Pennsounds – and also, here).

His Complete Poems were published in 2000 by the Northumbrian press, Bloodaxe (and in America by New Directions Books). Forthcoming from Flood editions in 2012 is a book of translations, Bunting’s Persia.

For further Bunting resources, we happily point you to the Basil Bunting Poetry Centre at Durham University.

Allen Ginsberg, Basil Bunting, Northumbria, 1973. Probably snapped by Tom Pickard with Allen’s camera. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate.

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