Joining Music with Reason

Jenny Lewis has ten poems included in Joining Music with Reason, the new anthology of British and American poets, chosen by the outgoing Oxford Professor of Poetry, Christopher Ricks. She says “It’s incredibly exciting to be included in such a prestigious publication,”

In November 2007, Jenny gave a reading at Balliol College, Oxford at the invitation of the then Oxford Professor of Poetry, Christopher Ricks. She read with American poet Mark Halliday, a brilliant humourist and excellent poet (in other words a hard act to follow!)

Ricks was Oxford Professor of Poetry between 2004 and 2009, and during his tenure arranged for 29 poets – a roughly equal mixture of British and American, established and new – to read from their work when he was in Oxford to deliver his lectures. Joining Music with Reason together a generous selection of work by all of those poets. They include:

Susan Barbour, Caroline Bird, Carmen Bugan, Kate Clanchy, Constantine Contogenis, Greg Delanty, Jane Draycott, David Ferry, John Fuller, Mark Halliday, Saskia Hamilton, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Jennings, George Kalogeris, Marcia Karp, Jenny Lewis, Peter McDonald, Jill McDonough, Patrick McGuinness, Adrian Mitchell, Lucy Newlyn, Bernard O’Donoghue, Jonathan Price, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Ted Richer, Don Share, Jon Stallworthy, John Talbot, Harry Thomas, Anthony Thwaite, Rosanna Warren, Rachel Wetzsteon and Kieron Winn.


In the book’s preface, Christopher Ricks writes: “Dr Johnson couched his high praise of poetry in these terms, and with reason, in The Rambler No. 86 (12 January 1751): ‘The poet has this peculiar superiority, that to all the powers which the perfection of every other composition can require, he adds the faculty of joining music with reason, and of acting at once upon the senses and the passions.’”

Joining Music with Reason not only bears out Dr Johnson’s claim for poetry, but also substantiates Matthew Arnold’s, that the best of it “will be found to have a power of forming, sustaining and delighting us as nothing else can”. It also promises to help dispel the mid-Atlantic fog that in recent decades has obscured all but a handful of the best-known American poets from a British audience and all but a handful of the best-known British poets from an American.

The book also has a ‘coda’ of work by distinguished poets with Oxford associations. These are Geoffrey Hill (the current Oxford Professor of Poetry), Elizabeth Jennings, Adrian Mitchell, Jonathan Price and Anthony Thwaite.

Joining Music with Reason is available, from the publisher, Waywiser Press or from Inpress.