Tom Raworth (1938-2017)


Tom Raworth – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg

Sad news to announce, the passing of one the great voices of poetry, and one of our dearest friends, Tom Raworth died today, after a long and protracted illness, aged 78.

From the Poetry Foundation website – “Writer, artist, teacher, and publisher Tom Raworth was born in South London. He attended the University of Essex; in 1970, he earned an MA in the theory and practice of literary translation. As founder of Matrix Press and co-founder of Goliard Press, Raworth was instrumental in bringing an entire tradition of American poetry to English readers..”

The author of over forty books and pamphlets, (more?),  his Collected Poems appeared from Carcanet in 2003. Windmills in Flames – Old and New Poems  appeared in 2010, (of which he wrote –  “The poems have no purpose, though their author is happy should others find them interesting to read. This book collects some early works missing from the Collected Poems  The rest were written since then. They will help the reader lose weight, have an attractive smile, be at ease with members of the opposite (or their own) sex, have relief from constipation, speak in tongues, fillet herrings and ultimately boost the Nation’s economy”)

Miles Champion‘s immaculate Selected Poems – As When,  including further poems omitted from the Collected Poems, and poems previously only issued as fugitive cards and broadsides, and including an invaluable contextual introduction, appeared in 2015 – an essential book, made in close collaboration with the author.


Also, from Salt, in 2009, Earn Your Milk, a gathering of Raworth’s prose writings

Mention might also be made of Removed For Further Study  Nate Dorward’s devoted essay collection/bibliographic study of Tom

and on the subject of critical response, here‘s Marjorie Perloff in the TLS on the Collected Poems – and on Windmills in Flames . Here‘s Iain Sinclair in the London Review of Books. Here‘s William Wootten in The Guardian

More Raworth reviews – Here‘s Joe Kennedy on Windmills in Flames in 3AM, here‘s David Kaufman in the Washington Independent on As When  and Jonathan Catherall in Literateur  on As When. There was a Tom Raworth feature in Jacket 26 in 2004

But criticism and on-the-page writing only go so far.  Tom and his rapid-fire delivery need, absolutely, to be heard. Fortunately, we have the inestimable Pennsound  (among the recordings on that page – two important retrospective anthologies Colin Still put together for RockdrillAce – Tom Raworth Poems 1966-1979 and Writing – Tom Raworth Poems 1966-1979.) More recent recordings include this (SUNY, Buffalo, 1982, with an introduction by Robert Creeley), this (New College, 1985), this (1989, Chicago radio), this (1995, Ear Inn, New York City), this (Kelly Writers House, Philadelphia, 2006) and this (Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, 2012)

Tom interviews? – He was a pretty sly interviewee but here a 1993 interview, another from 2010, and from 2011, and from 2014 (with Kyle Schlesinger)

Tom’s art? We love it. –  Norma Cole even wrote a little book about it .

Tom’s web-site, was and is, not only a comprehensive and informative site on Tom, but also, was and is, a portal to his friends around the world [2018 update – regretfully this extensive and extraordinary source is now no longer available – but -further update – (though  “Tom Raworth thought of this site as ephemeral and that it might disappear when he did),  it may still be acccessed on a mirror site via his EPC home page – here – and specifically – here]

Memories of Tom are going to coming flooding in. We just wanted to say that we’ll miss him hugely – R.I.P.

One comment

  1. Some early response – from The Poetry Foundation –
    from 3 AM –
    from his friend in France, Jacques Roubaud –à-tom-raworth-par-jacques-roubaud.html
    from the scholar and poet, Robert Sheppard –
    from Pierre Joris –

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