To most people, the idea that any poet might be described as ‘mainstream’ seems slightly odd; the whole of the poetry world appears to the majority to be an esoteric and marginal enterprise. However, marginality is always relative, and within the current poetry scene in Britain — and to a lesser extent in Ireland — the debate over whether certain sections of the poetry-writing population have been unfairly excluded and marginalised by the dominant publishers and institutions has reached a new level of intensity. A combination of events has catalysed this; firstly, and most importantly, the publication of several new books which have a clear revisionist agenda and seek to redress a perceived repression of the experimental poetry scene;1 secondly, the success of new Cambridge-based publisher Salt, which is publishing large amounts of new and existing experimental poetry and criticism of such work; and thirdly, the impact made between 2002 and 2005 by the editors of the London-based Poetry Review, a magazine which has been decidedly mainstream for the last few decades2 but has recently taken a strikingly different approach in seeking to expose work from all sections of the poetry continuum.
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