Adrian Henri: selected and unpublished poems 1965-2000

This large collection of poetry is a tribute to the eclectic nature of the influences which informed the varied output of Adrian Henri. There is plenty of evidence of versatility and humour on display. However, a certain sadness and discomfort surfaces in much of the work. For example, the essence of unrequited love is captured quite adroitly:

“You make me feel like an empty lift

You make me feel like a worthless gift”

Nonetheless, it is dissatisfaction with his own identity that seems to haunt the poet. Fortunately, he has the ability to make some fun at his own expense. Nevertheless, his excessive ambition is discernible. His hot desire to compare himself with others is remarkable. He lists diverse heroes who he would seemingly have liked to be:

“Marx Dostoyevsky

Bakunin Ray Bradbury

Miles Davis Trotsky

Stravinsky and Poe”

It is worth noting that Marx and Bakunin were not amicable comrades. Their philosophical conflict had historic implications. While Bakunin predicted that orthodox Marxism would fail to bring down the state, his attempts at theorising capitalism were not as rich as those of his antagonist. It seems strange to be inspired equally by an anarchist and by Marx. Ultimately, many people on the left prefer to focus on the development of Marxism or anarchism. It is perhaps the inability to be content and the related inability to choose which ensnared Henri in paralysing contradictions.

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