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T S Eliot on the publishing of poetry

18 December 2017

'I look at a good many poetry scripts every week. Of the great majority, I may say that there is no part of my work which costs me less time and trouble. That is one thing about verse: you can judge from a very small quantity whether the author has any possibilities or not; you can often say, ‘The man who can write as bad a line as that simply hasn't got it in him.' The rarest experience is to come across a new poet who strikes you as so good that you don't need anybody's judgment but your own.

There remain a small number of scripts by new authors about which you cannot make up your mind at once. I usually keep such scripts for a long time, to take them up again at intervals, to read them in a different mood, at a different time of day. When one is tired, and has been looking at a number of bad scripts, it is very easy to deceive oneself into thinking that a collection of poems is better than it is, merely because it is better than the others.'

T S Eliot's address to the Society of Young Publishers, on The Publishing of Poetry, reprinted in The Bookseller 6 December 1952,  is part of a great online treasure trove of the poet's writing