Grey Suit Critique is a place to share literary criticism and essays, generally focused on poetry. Our aim as editors is to showcase interesting current work as well as to highlight essays and criticism from the past that continue to resonate.


"The point of conjuction for realism and abstraction is that the real is never real, since there is a shift into art or artifice. The 'real' described is not the actuality, it is what is described by words. The signifier is substituted for the real. Equally, however, the abstract is never abstract (a point made by Coolidge or Chomsky) since, however juxtaposed or scrambled, words do signify, thus the abstract cannot avoid the signified. So the real is never entirely real- except as a text. The abstract is never only a text.

The key issue for poetry today has to be originality, rather than belonging. By belonging, I mean to schools, pressure groups or political parties. The main fault for both realists and abstractionists is taking the house style or school aesthetic too seriously!

Truly original works are vulnerable because they have to abandon something that is supposed to be there. Rhyme for instance. That used to be a bugbear for the anti-free-versers. Today it might be absence of meaning- a criticism aimed at the abstractionists by the lyrical realists. This need to abandon some accepted rule in order to make something new accounts for originality's vulnerability, and is why Cummings, Sitwell and Vachel Lindsey are still distrusted by a myopic establishment. The abstractionists, for their part, have set up their own taboos- narrative and signification, for instance.

Excerpts from Anthony Howell's splendid essay Afterism published in The Fortnightly Review. Read the full essay here. along with Genetically Modified  a companion piece by Peter Riley.

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