Penguin’s Modern Poet Series Gets a Reboot for the 21st Century

The new anthologies will feature Patricia Lockwood, Anne Carson, and Sharon Olds

When the Penguin Modern Poets series was launched in 1962, its goal was to introduce contemporary poetry to “the general reader.” Each anthology covered three poets, and a total of eighty-one writers from Allen Ginsburg to Kinglsey Amis were showcased in the series’s twenty-seven book run. The anthologies were popular; the tenth collection, The Mersey Sound, included the works of Liverpool poets Roger McGough, Brian Patten, and Adrian Henri and went on to become one of the best selling poetry collections of all time.

Issue 10, The Mersey Sound

The series, which ended in 1979 except for a brief 1990s revival, is relaunching in July under the direction of Penguin poetry editor Donald Futers. The first collection is titled If I’m Scared We Can’t Win and will feature the work of Anne Carson, Sophie Collins, and Emily Berry. The goal is to release a new anthology every three months and, unlike the original series that featured mostly American and British poets, the revived collections will include poets from a range of backgrounds.

Futers has the first twelve issues already planned. He says, “There’s a strong case for our finding ourselves right now in a golden age for poetry. Between creative writing programs, an abundance of new publications, the ever-growing popularity of spoken word and performance poetry — think of Kate Tempest, or Warsan Shire — and a new generation made unprecedentedly available to one other across national boundaries by the internet, exciting poetry capable of speaking deeply to, challenging, and exciting its readers is being written on a staggering scale.”

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