J. H. Prynne

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Jeremy Halvard Prynne (born 24 June 1936) is a British poet closely associated with the British Poetry Revival.

Prynne was educated at St Dunstan's College, Catford, and Jesus College, Cambridge.[1] He is a Life Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He retired in October 2005 from his posts teaching English Literature as a Lecturer and University Reader in English Poetry for the University of Cambridge and as Director of Studies in English for Gonville and Caius College; in September 2006 he retired from his position as Librarian of the College.

Prynne's early influences include Donald Davie and Charles Olson. He was one of the key figures in the Cambridge group among the British Poetry Revival poets and a major contributor to The English Intelligencer. His first book, Force of Circumstance and Other Poems was published in 1962, but Prynne has excluded it from his canon. His Poems (1982) collected all the work he wanted to keep in print, beginning with Kitchen Poems (1968), with expanded and updated editions appearing in 1999, 2005, and 2015. 2020 to 2022 has seen an unprecedented burst of productivity, with the publication of over two dozen small press chapbooks and several substantial collections, including book-length poems, sequences and a poetic novel.

In addition to his poetry, Prynne has published some critical and academic prose. A transcription of a 1971 lecture on Olson's Maximus Poems at Simon Fraser University has had wide circulation.[2] His longer works include a monograph on Ferdinand de Saussure, Stars, Tigers and the Shape of Words,[3] and self-published book-length commentaries on individual poems by Shakespeare (Sonnets 94 and 15), George Herbert ("Love III") and Wordsworth ("The Solitary Reaper"). His long and passionate interest in China is reflected in an essay on New Songs from a Jade Terrace, an anthology of early Chinese love poetry, which was included in the second edition of the book from Penguin (1982). He has written a poem in classical Chinese under the name Pu Ling-en (蒲龄恩). In 2016, a lengthy interview with Prynne about his poetic practice appeared in The Paris Review as part of its "The Art of Poetry" series.[4]



  • Force of Circumstance and Other Poems (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962)
  • Kitchen Poems (Cape Golliard, 1968)
  • Aristeas (Ferry Press, 1968)
  • Day Light Songs (Pampisford, 1968)
  • The White Stones (Grosseteste Press, 1969)
  • Fire Lizard ( Blacksuede Boot Press, 1970)
  • Brass (Ferry Press, 1971)
  • A Night Square (Albion Village Press, 1971)
  • Into The Day (privately printed, distributed through Ferry Press, 1972)
  • Wound Response (Street Editions, 1974)
  • High Pink on Chrome (privately printed, distributed through Ferry Press, 1975)
  • News of Warring Clans (Trigram Press, 1977)
  • Down Where Changed (Ferry Press, 1979)
  • Poems (Agneau 2, 1982)
  • The Oval Window (privately printed, distributed through DS -The Book Shop, 1983)
  • Bands Around the Throat (privately printed, distributed through Ferry Press, 1987)
  • Word Order ( Prest Roots Press, 1989)
  • Jie ban mi Shi Hu (Poetical Histories, 1992)
  • Not-You (Equipage, 1993)
  • Her Weasels Wild Returning (Equipage, 1994)
  • For the Monogram (Equipage, 1997)
  • Red D Gypsum (Barque Press, 1998)
  • Pearls That Were (privately printed, distributed through Equipage, 1999)
  • Poems (Bloodaxe, 2nd edition, 1999)
  • Triodes (Barque, 2000)
  • Unanswering Rational Shore (Object Permanence, 2001)
  • Acrylic Tips (Barque, 2002)
  • Biting the Air (Equipage, 2003)
  • Blue Slides At Rest (2004, but only available in revised, expanded Bloodaxe Collected Poems, 2005)
  • Poems (Bloodaxe, 3rd edition, 2005)
  • To Pollen (Barque, 2006)
  • SUB SONGS (Barque, 2010)
  • Kazoo Dreamboats; or, On What There Is (Critical Documents, 2011)
  • Al-Dente (Face Press, 2014)
  • Poems (Bloodaxe, 4th edition, 2015)
  • Each to Each (Equipage, 2017)
  • Of the Abyss (Materials, 2017)
  • Or Scissel (Shearsman, 2018)
  • The Oval Window: annotated edition (Bloodaxe, 2018)
  • Of Better Scrap (Face Press, 1st edition, 2019)
  • Of Better Scrap (Face Press, 2nd edition, 2019)
  • None Yet More Willing Told (Face Press, 2019)
  • Parkland (Critical Documents, 2019)
  • Bitter Honey (Legitimate Snack, 2020)
  • Squeezed White Noise (Face Press, 2020)
  • Enchanter's Nightshade (Face Press, 2020)
  • Memory Working: Impromptus (Face Press, 2020)
  • Her Air Fallen (Critical Documents, 2020)
  • The Fever's End (Critical Documents, 2020)
  • Passing Grass Parnassus (Face Press, 2020)
  • Memory Working: Impromptus (XI-XVII) (Face Press, 2020)
  • Aquatic Hocquets (Face Press, 2020)
  • Kernels in Vernal Silence (Face Press, 2020)
  • Torrid Auspicious Quartz (Face Press, 2020)
  • See By So (Face Press, 2020)
  • Duets Infer Duty (Face Press, 2020)
  • Orchard (Equipage, 2020)
  • Presume Catkins (Broken Sleep, 2021)
  • Otherhood Imminent Profusion (Critical Documents, 2021)
  • Athwart Apron Snaps (Slub Press, 2021)
  • Efflux Reference (Face Press, 2021)
  • Dune Quail Eggs (Face Press, 2021)
  • Lay Them Straight (Face Press, 2021)
  • Snooty Tipoffs (Face Press, 2021)
  • Memory Working: Impromptus (XVIII-XXVI) (Face Press, 2021)
  • At Raucous Purpose Ful (Broken Sleep, 2022)
  • Sea Shells Told (Face Press, 2022)
  • Shade Furnace (Critical Documents, 2022)


  • "English Poetry and Emphatical Language," Proceedings of the British Academy, 74 (1988), 135-69
  • Stars, Tigers and the Shape of Words (Birkbeck College, 1993)
  • They That Haue Powre to Hurt; A Specimen of a Commentary on Shake-speares Sonnets, 94 (2001)
  • Field Notes: 'The Solitary Reaper' and others (2007)
  • George Herbert, Love III: A Discursive Commentary (2011)
  • Certain Prose of the English Intelligencer (Cambridge: Mountain, 2012) Early correspondence and essays
  • Concepts and Conception in Poetry (Cambridge: Critical Documents, 2014)
  • Graft and Corruption: Shakespeare's Sonnet 15 (Cambridge: Face Press, 2015; 2nd edition 2016)
  • "J.H. Prynne, The Art of Poetry No. 101," interview with Jeff Doven & Joshua Kotin, Paris Review 218 (Fall 2016)
  • Apophthegms (Face Press, 2017)


  • The Collected Letters of Charles Olson and J.H. Prynne, ed. Ryan Dobran (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2017)


  1. ^ ""Cambridge Tripos Results"". Times. 23 June 1960.
  2. ^ "Jeremy Prynne lecture on Maximus Poems IV, V, VI, The Park 4/5 (1969); Rpt. Io 16 (1973) 1".
  3. ^ J.H. Prynne, Stars, Tigers and the Shape of Words (London: Birkbeck College, 1993)
  4. ^ The Paris Review No. 218, Fall 2016

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