A. Alvarez, a British poet, critic and essayist who played a pivotal role in bringing the poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath to the public, and whose acclaimed book on the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas helped transform high-stakes professional poker from a cult to a televised sport, died on Monday at his home in London. He was 90.
Mr. Alvarez’s enormously influential anthology “The New Poetry,” published in 1962, brought the poetry of Mr. Hughes, Thom Gunn and Geoffrey Hill and the American confessional poets John Berryman and Robert Lowell to a wide audience in Britain. Ms. Plath and Anne Sexton were added to the 1966 edition.
In his polemical preface, Mr. Alvarez railed against the genteel tradition in English poetry and what he called “the cult of rigid impersonality.” The new poetry, he argued, took emotional risks. It embraced “experience sometimes on the edge of disintegration and breakdown.”
William Grimes, Sept. 23, 2019, nytimes
From Alvarez’s book Night:
Apart from the ‘organised and steady system’, something else hasn’t changed since Dickens went out with the police: the ‘individual energy and keenness’. But police take on the character of their territory. In London, the energy and keenness are masked, like the city itself, by a certain reticence; in Manhattan, they come with a New Yorker pace and appetite. When I called Lieutenant Raymond O’Donnell, the head of media liaison at Police Plaza, the NYPD’s downtown redbrick fortress, to arrange a couple of nights as a ‘ride-along’ in the back of a patrol car, I asked to go to precincts where I might see some action.
A gravelly voice at the other end said, ‘Whaddya want, drugs or whores?’
‘How about both?’
‘You got it!’