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Edwin Brock

20th century British poet

Edwin Brock (1927-1997) was a British poet. Born into a working class London family, Brock discovered poetry when he picked up an anthology during idle time while serving in World War II. He taught himself how to write verse and spent many years writing while working as a policeman and, later, a successful advertising copywriter. Two of his best-known poems are Five Ways to Kill a Man and Song of the Battery Hen.

The River And The Train

Poetry by Edwin Brock

With The River and the Train, Edwin Brock’s sixth collection to be published by New Directions, this British author shifts his focus from the brutality and desperate compromise of urban existence to the more pastoral though no less complex irony of life in a converted East Anglian granary. The bitter anger of such earlier books as The Blocked Heart (1976) and the prose and verse "Fragments of a Childhood" Here. Now. Always. (1977) has not disappeared but has been dispersed and mellowed by the poet’s life with his second wife, artist Elizabeth Brock, and their daughter "Fred." Wistful, sardonic, Brock now fantasizes "not reincarnation/so much as sometime-loop/which returns me to/where I started to go wrong."

Available: May 01 1979

Here. Now. Always

Poetry by Edwin Brock

Here. Now. Always. is the British poet Edwin Brock’s fifth book to be published in this country in as many years. It is perhaps the most intimate work thus far by this intensely personal and often acerbic writer: a memoir in prose interlaced with elucidating passages of his verse. In short episodic epiphanies, Brock reviews his bitter boyhood, his service in the British navy and on the London police force, the collapse of his first marriage. Brock, who was born in 1927, has said that he spent these early years simply “waiting for something to happen." In truth, his every breath was taken in the endless moment––“Here. Now. Always.”

Available: March 01 1977

The Blocked Heart

Poetry by Edwin Brock

The Blocked Heart is the fourth collection by the British poet Edwin Brock to be published in the United States. Reading his most recent verse, one becomes increasingly aware that the author’s pervasive wry melancholy is not so much a passive response to the stress of urban life as a compassionate, virile outburst against it. Here we find, in many ways, a maturing synthesis of his earlier work: the candid, often bitter introspection of Invisibility Is the Art of Survival (1972 ), the more meditative, though no less incisive subtlety of The Portraits The Poses (1973), and the acerbic satire of Paroxisms (1974), a volume which includes illustrations by the poet’s wife, Elizabeth. “[His is] the freshest voice from Britain in years,” writes Hayden Carruth. ’’Brock’s sense of the formal tradition is indubitably English, but otherwise unpredictable, because he uses it very personally, amiably, and with great natural tact. His poems look to me like a breakthrough."

Available: March 01 1976


Fiction by Edwin Brock

Cynics, says our author, "write books / by Edwin Brock / illustrated by / his wife." Readers already familiar with the wry, sometimes dour work of the British poet Edwin Brock will recall that his wife, Elizabeth, contributed the jacket illustrations to his two previous collections published here (Invisibility Is the Art of Survival and The Portraits The Poses). Now they have combined their talents and complementary satiric visions to produce "A Guide to the Isms." With the biting verse of the one, and the charming, mischievous sketches of the other, Paroxisms prods some of our most cherished sets of ideas. Catholicism, Freudianism, Patriotism, Communism, Capitalism, Surrealism, Eroticism, even the poet’s own Cynicism––all are at the receiving end of the Brocks’ combined sting.

The Portraits & The Poses

Poetry by Edwin Brock

The publication in 1972 of Invisibility Is the Art of Survival, the author’s own selection of poems from earlier books brought out in England, introduced Edwin Brock to American readers. This new collection, The Portraits & The Poses, will further the acquaintance with a fresh and forceful voice, one which David Ignatow has called "the best in English contemporary poetry." These are highly personal poems: the "poses," the postures and bafflements of everyday life as Brock sees it; the "portraits," pithy vignettes of everyday people and their relationships as he knows them. Yet what is personal to the poet is made highly accessible by his art, and by his particular qualities of profound earthiness, honesty, humor, and concern.

Invisibility Is The Art Of Survival

Poetry by Edwin Brock

Invisibility Is the Art of Survival marks the first appearance in this country, in book form, of the work of Edwin Brock. Born in London in 1927, Brock says he has spent the subsequent years waiting for something to happen, occupying his time as a sailor, journalist, policeman, and adman, in that order. Yet none of this, he feels, has touched him, "except with a fine patina of invisibility." Poetry, however, is for him an act of self-definition "which sometimes goes so deep that you become what you have defined. And this," he adds, "is the nearest thing to an activity I have yet found." Thus in addition to being poetry editor of Ambit, Brock has published several volumes of his own. His first, An Attempt at Exorcism, was brought out in 1959, and was followed over the next decade by A Family Affair, With Love from Judas, a large selection in Penguin Modern Poets 8, and A Cold Day at the Zoo. For Invisibility Is the Art of Survival, Brock has gleaned a representative selection from all his previous books, adding to it a number of recent, uncollected poems. Confronted with his work, American readers will agree with the critic Alan Pryce-Jones that Brock has written "some of the most observant and compassionate poems of our time––poems, moreover, in which the poet keeps his feet on the ground as skillfully as his head in the air."

Available: November 01 1972