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The work of Jeremy Adler and the British Poetry Revival

Part of a Jeremy Adler poem from Notes from the correspondencePart of a Jeremy Adler poem from Notes from the correspondenceThis section of the online exhibition features work by Jeremy Adler, poet and professor emeritus at King’s College London. Jeremy Adler was active in the Poetry Society from 1967 to 1977, where he produced work alongside influential members of the British Poetry Revival, including Eric Mottram (whose copy of Allen Ginsberg’s Collected poems also appears in this section on Literary revolutionaries).Part of a Jeremy Adler poem from Notes from the correspondencePart of a Jeremy Adler poem from Notes from the correspondence

The British Poetry Revival took place during the 1960s and 1970s. It was a modernist-inspired reaction to the more conservative Movement poetry of the time. Jeremy Adler and other ‘Revival’ poets dominated the Poetry Society throughout the 1970s.

Decorative cover with dotted colours, from Notes from the CorrespondenceDecorative cover from Notes from the correspondenceSoap box with contents arrangedSoap box with contents arrangedSoap box with contents arrangedSoap box with contents arrangedThe work they produced was inspired by the International Poetry Incarnation of 1965, at which Allen Ginsberg and Ernst Jandl read.

As Adler writes, ‘the Poetry Society translated the mood of 1965 and all its vibrancy into a single continuum, which made that unique event and its atmosphere permanently accessible to a wide and growing public’.

The Society held a number of experimental workshops on visual poetry, sound poetry, semantic poetry and poetry and dance. Poetry readings and live performances were a key part of the Revival poets’ work and much of the sound and performance poetry was rooted in Dada.

As well as the Poetry Society, King’s College London was a key site in the Revival. Eric Mottram, a central figure, taught at King’s and a number of Revival poets attended the university and were taught by him.

The items reproduced here include the poem Notes from the correspondence (top and left) and Jeremy Adler’s visual poem Soap box.

First page of ‘The role of theatre in Czechoslavakia’s ‘velvet revolution’’First page of ‘The role of theatre in Czechoslavakia’s “velvet revolution’’The artist’s book Notes from the correspondence is a collaborative work between Adler and the artist Sylvia Finzi. Collaborative work was a key part of the Revival poets’ work, and the item on display shows an effective combination of poetry and art.

The visual poem Soap box shows how poetry can be treated in a material way without relying on semantics.

Also reproduced is Jeremy Adler’s article ‘The role of theatre in Czechoslovakia’s “velvet revolution”’, which was the first essay on art in the fall of communism.

Jeremy Adler was an observer of the Czechoslovak Velvet Revolution in the 1980s, and exhibited work by revolutionary leader Václav Havel, who was a dramatist and experimental poet.

We are grateful to Jeremy Adler for allowing us to reproduce the works shown here; and to Cambridge University Press for allowing reproduction of the text from: ‘The role of theatre in Czechoslavakia’s “velvet revolution’’’, Themes in drama, 13, pages 291-313, 1991, Cambridge University Press.

In this exhibition


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