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Lee Harwood obituary

Author of more than 20 books of poetry who also translated the work of Tristan Tzara

Lee Harwood, who has died aged 76, created a uniquely open and intimate body of poetry. Committed to describing experiences and feelings usually excluded from formal poetry (because too embarrassing), and from modernist poetry (because too personal), Harwood produced more than 20 volumes, which tended to appear from small-scale or specialist publishers.

His most often reported aesthetic principle was to leave “blanks” that readers fill with their own memories and imaginations so that each creates a different poem from the basic foundations the writer gives. Although he later withdrew from asserting “dogmatic views on what writing’s about”, the need for his poetry to be useful to others and to have a place in social life remained central.

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