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Basil Bunting

Basil Bunting (19001985) was a British modernist poet. He had a lifelong interest in music and this led him to emphasise the idea of poetry as sound and the importance of reading poetry aloud. Bunting was an accomplished reader of his own work.

Bunting was born in Northumbria and educated as a Quaker. In 1918, he was arrested as a conscientious objector and spent time in Wormwood Scrubs and Winchester prisons.

During the early 1920s, Bunting became friendly with Ezra Pound and his early poetry was to show the influence of this friendship. He was published in the Objectivist issue of Poetry magazine and the Objectivist Anthology and in Pound's Active Anthology. He also worked as a music critic during this time.

During World War II, Bunting served in British Military Intelligence in Persia. After the war, he continued to serve on the British Embassy staff in Teheran until he was expelled by Mussadegh in 1952.

Back in Northumbria, he worked as a journalist on a local paper. During the 1960s, Bunting was rediscovered by young poets who were interested in working with the Modernist tradition. In 1966, he published his major long poem Briggflatts. This was both a kind of autobiography and a celebration of the Northumbrian dialect. The critic Cyril Connolly described it as "the finest long poem to have been published in England since T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets".

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