Peter Finch: What the Critics Say

writers advice

  • Since the early 1970s, Finch has been the principal innovator in Welsh poetry.....he deserves a Welsh knighthood..
    Richard Kostelanetz, Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes

  • "a delight, continuously inventive, truthful, intelligent, as funny as Buster Keaton or Dafydd ap Gwilym, and as sad. I was reminded more often than not of Joyce and MacDiarmid, and of the linguistic high jinks - and indignation - on view in recent Scottish poetry. What lifts the pieces in Useful out of callow avant-gardeism is Finch's admirable imagination and formal control. Buy it soonest."
    William Scammell, (on Useful), Independent on Sunday.
    Read the complete text.

  • "Finch has been one of the most influential literary figures in Wales of the last sixty years."
    Gary Raymond in Abandon All Hope, Calon, April, 2024

  • "None of this should be taken to mean that Finch’s poetry is aesthetic, is art for art’s sake; he is frequently, I might argue usually, politically engaged, and this engagement moves through 1960s radicalism to a disgust at the destruction of his native Wales under Thatcher (“she listened but did not hear”) and a recurring evisceration of arts administrators, corporate business speakers, and bullshitters in general.....These collected poems are a joy to read; so go read them"
    Billy Mills on The Collected Poems in Elliptical Movements, August, 2022

  • "Now in his mid-seventies, the shaven headed septuagenarian feels more culturally relevant than ever, not least because of his verve and iconoclasm. If, like him, you’ve an appetite for literary subversion, you’ll find his double volume Collected Poems good enough to eat."
    Paul McDonald on The Collected Poems
    in London Grip, August, 2022

  • "As a trip back through time to Cardiff at a pivotal moment in pop culture history, and forward to that historical moment’s afterlife, this is a vivid and engaging read that breathes new life into some great old music." - Dr Sarah Hill (on The Roots of Rock) in The Welsh Agenda, Spring/Summer 2016

  • "Peter Finch is probably the greatest living performer in poetry that we’ve got"
    Chris McCabe, Southbank Centre GPS site.

  • "Peter Finch himself appears in this piece as one of the storytellers displaying some excellent comic timing to add to his reportage skills."
    Lewis Davies on Love, Cardiff: City Road Stories performance at the Sherman Theatre, April, 2017. Review in Wales Arts Review

  • "…an impassioned Peter Finch, who convulsed like a poetical grim reaper as he read from Dylan's 18 poems…."
    Swansea Evening Post, October, 2014 (on The Dylanthon).

  • "I'm convinced that Finch is one of the most exciting poets writing today on these islands, pushing the idea of poetry out as far as it will go, stretching the elastic band to snapping point and beyond, far beyond. Finch is so good because of his constant need to create and recreate, and his refusal to accept barriers. We need more poets like him."
    Ian Macmillan, (on Useful), Poetry Wales
    Read the complete text

  • "For 40 years he has been the Welsh avant-garde, as inventive and as indispensable as he has been consistently undervalued and of the few Welsh writers capable of entrancing young students with his verbal chutzpah, his Crazy Gang of words. Henffych, Peter: a hir oes eto i'ch egni ac i'ch dawn."
    M. Wynn Thomas in Wales In Action, Spring 2005

  • Finch's "way with echoes, loops, chiasmus, systems, repetitions etc. is tremendous on stage, always a sensation to watch...."
    Chris McCabe, Poetry Librarian, (on Finch's 2009 performance at the ICA)

  • "For my money Peter Finch's chapter best captures the exhilaration and excitement of the time. I didn't know Finch knew David Toop, so at least there's a link to improvised music there, but then it seems Finch knew everyone. (I think he still does.)"
    Rupert Loydell (on Cusp), Stride, November, 2012

  • "For once believe a blurb. Peter Finch's umpteenth collection is marked by all the 'restless energy, humour and angst' it says it is. He is prolific and indestructible"
    Andrew Stibbs, (on Useful), The North

  • Vigorous, mind-opening and bracing as a Hokusai wave...Welsh writing needs the alternative energy of Peter Finch
    Ros Moule, BWA

  • doesn't so much challenge the reader as utter menaces
    Christopher Meredith, (on Food), Thumbscrew

  • Finch is never dull....he is intelligent, irreverent and often genuinely funny
    Vernon Scannell, Ambit

  • Just this side of chaos
    Jon Gower

  • ....almost a wave by himself.....
    Victor Golightly, NWR

  • ...challenging and perplexing but rarely boring...
    John Williams, Virtual Vagabond

  • ....the enfant terrible/white knight of the establishment .....
    Parthian Books Web Site

  • Peter Finch has continued to be the outstanding, if not the only, representative of the avant-garde in literature in Wales...The energy and inventiveness he brought to second aeon have not declined with the years and these qualities, along with verbal facility and wit have constantly characterised his poetry.
    Sam Adams, PN Review

  • Somewhere between Jack Kerouac and Nigel Molesworth ...
    Zoe Skoulding, (on Food), Skald
    Read the complete text

  • there’s no-one writing quite like him in Wales, despite the emergence of younger urban poets in Cardiff and Swansea.
    John Barnie, (on Food), Gwales.Com
    Read the complete text

  • vintage Finch – ideas so good you can't think why you didn’t think of them first, and their the execution so stylish and graceful you are glad that you didn’t, that it’s Finch who developed them with customary panache.
    Jane Routh, (on Food), Stride Magazine
    Read the complete text

  • For a few years we shared an interest in experimental poetry and he went on to produce texts and tapes which shocked some of our more conservative critics.
    I know one who still refers to Peter Finch as "bardd ofer", "a pointless poet".
    That seems to me a harsh view of a man who marches to a different drum and who is willing to stretch the bounds of poetry as far as they will go. There may be something of Buster Keaton or Alfred Jarry about his work, but the fact that it makes us grin doesn't mean that he isn't serious in what he does.
    Meic Stephens, (on Food), Western Mail
    Read the complete text

  • consistently produces the most exciting, original and technically innovative poetry around
    Claire Powell, (on Food), Poetry Salzburg
    Read more

  • the man's so on top of his game, it seems he's taking the mick.....
    David Woolley, (on Food), The David Jones Journal

  • Its consistent tone is notable for its wryness, the mocking response of a mature, and slightly world weary man who can tell a hawk from a handsaw
    Poetry Nottingham International
    Read the complete text

  • Finch tinkers with your brain, sets out to deconstruct pre-set notions about what poetry is, what we expect to find, and then, he delivers, takes you there.
    Sarah Corbett, (on Food), New Welsh Review

  • Reading some of Peter Finch's work is like reading the bog walls of a superior university - this is a compliment.
    Michael Bangerter, (on Food), Iota
    Read the complete text

  • The leading (and, at times, virtually the only!) avant-garde poet writing in Wales. His output has been prodigious.
    from Peter Finch Sounds Off: Claire Powell's critical analysis.
    Read the complete text.

  • A defiant individualist, restlessly pushing words beyond their given forms and meanings to say new things in new ways about our complicated knife-edge times
    Nigel Jenkins, Western Mail

  • Peter Finch is an urban poet, trailing contemporary troubles with bitter brio
    Graham Allen, New Welsh Review

  • ...clever, technically accomplished poems.....
    Mario Basini, (on Useful), Western Mail

  • This is a lot more enjoyable than 20 volumes of RS Thomas, and says roughly the same things.
    Andrew Duncan, (on Make),

  • not recommended for the poetically conservative...
    Planet, (on Antibodies)
    Read the complete text.

  • strictly for addicts, masochists and freewheeling bohemians who like to shake a leg in suburbia.
    The Independent on Sunday, (on Antibodies)

  • Each poem is a tiny artificial world, but the rate which ideas arrive and depart is relentless.
    Andrew Duncan, (on Antibodies),

  • His work also makes a strong case for the relevance of experimental poetry beyond the purely modern.
    Jake Berry, (on Antibodies), M.A.G.
    Read the complete text

  • What is modern? Nothing more so than the mind of Peter Finch. The mixture is heady and effective - making for work which is far more adventurous than much so called modern poetry that often seems trapped and hungover in its bedsit, bleating about the opposite sex.
    Adrian Buckner (on Useful), Poetry Nottingham

  • This is a book I have consistently recommended from the time it first appeared, and nothing that has appeared since has changed my mind. It is comprehensive, sensible, and accurate. For an extra quid you get all that experience, 50% more pages, and a quote from the editor of ORBIS. What more could you ask? It's no contest, really.
    Mike Shields in Orbis comparing How To Publish Your Poetry with a contemporary upstart.

  • Peter Finch packs his book with both sound advice and knowledgeable asides. Indeed, for anyone involved in any capacity with the current poetry scene, it's an interesting read in its own right. And, if the test of any How To... book is that one learns something new from it, then in my case Peter Finch's passed on two counts.
    Sam Smith in Zene on How To Publish your Poetry

  • "He cleaned up and paid people"
    Overheard comment

  • There is a feeling in Antibodies of being invited - challenged - to use the work to reach one's own vision. It is difficult and exciting reading
    Dee Rimbaud, Chapman

  • A writer who relishes living where two languages interface and become estranged from themselves
    M Wynn Thomas, Corresponding Cultures, UWP

  • I was lucky enough to catch Peter Finch, Welsh performance poet, poetry activist, editor and impresario (he's been central to the Welsh poetry underground scene since the 60s), at a show last week, and was blown away. Wild, witty, staccato and with a voice that hints of Hopkins' Hannibal with a velvet edge, he was doing "tens" without trying. His book Selected Poems is a good place to start
    Todd Swift, in Hungary's virtual magazine @gent

  • Experimental, accessible and sometimes very funny, Peter Finch's poetry is only one part of this voluminous site. It is also a personal biography, a collection of reviews, a great collection of links to other poetry sites and a place in which Finch provides excerpts from his excellent guides to self-publishing.
    CTI Centre for Textural Studies web site approving of the Peter Finch Archive

  • Finch invests these forgotten margins of the capital with the same compelling desolation as that bestowed by Dickens upon the Essex marshes
    Grahame Davies, (on Real Cardiff), New Welsh Review

  • The man is like Alka-Seltzer. His words (and sounds) fly at you and fizz in your face.....Breathless and manic with dramatic pedigree, and funnier than most stand-ups, Finch's 'intros' had the audience howling at every turn.
    John Elcock, (on a last Thursday performance at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea), Roundyhouse.

  • His diglossic satire on Welsh icons of national identity erupts with energy in the use of Welsh and English idiom in the same phrase: 'rudin wedi dysgu hen ddigon ol'moldering / Welsh Saunders Mabinognog crap'.
    Kirsti Bohata, Postcolonialism Revisited, Welsh Writing In English, University of Wales Press 2004

  • I have to say that I do rejoice when sublime nonsense is on the menu, as it is in Food. This book is six pounds ninety five pee worth of hilarity.
    John Hartley Williams, Seven Sails: Sailing towards a retrospective - Seren 25 Years, Poetry Wales, January, 2006.

  • A collection of 'texts' that Peter Finch, our boldest surrealist, has constructed and then deconstructed, often to astonishing effect.......But beware: this is not a book to give your auntie, unless she too is a dadaist.
    Meic Stephens (on The Welsh Poems), Cambria, 2006

  • These poems are well travelled indeed. This is Finch's best book so far.
    Rupert Loydell (on The Welsh Poems), Stride Magazine, 2006
    Read the complete text

  • This new collection from Peter Finch is a real pleasure. His poetry inhabits an old border of the English language, permeated with Welsh sources, literature, history and place, fraying into Welsh or deeper into the common realm of sound where distinctions between languages dissolve. From this interesting position Finch continues to mine the rich seams of experimentalism, which if The Welsh Poems are anything to go by, are far from exhausted.
    Jamie Wilkes (on The Welsh Poems), Intercapillary Space, 2006
    Read the complete text

  • A cinch for Sheers, Abse and Finch
    headline in Western Mail, July 2006

  • There is something oddly likeable about the first half of the book where he works "the oven / with its roaring fan and gargled heat" to produce a language which melts and liquefies in the grasp; but which poses serious questions about our understanding of that language and about what the power relationships between us and the world really are.
    Nigel McLoughlin (on The Welsh Poems), Poetry Review, Autumn 2006

  • What is evident from this collection is Peter Finch's sustained engagement with the languages and ideolects of Wales and his questioning of ideas of monolithic tradition....(The Welsh Poems) can be read as a chronicle of a lifetime's engagement with poetry, poetics and the poetry business.
    Nerys Williams (on The Welsh Poems), Planet, 2006

  • Finch's performance is assured and dramatic. The poem's use of assonance, dissonance and alliteration, especially on the sibilants, builds almost to distortion. The poem literally hisses, fizzes and buzzes
    Writing in Education, 2007 discussing Finch's contribution to iPoems

  • Those who prefer poems that maintain clear surfaces will surely find beauty in this poet’s diction. “Language music haunted stillness”.
    Sarah Kennedy (on The Welsh Poems), West Review, 2008
    Read the complete text

  • "Peter Finch's poetry is riotously inventive on both language and poetic form....However, Finch's capacity to produce deeply serious work should not be ignored: he is a moving poet of loss and fragility.....Running to well over two hundred pages, this is a significant book, covering Finch's work from Make (1990) to The Welsh Poems (2006). As such, is is an extremely valuable record of a major contribution to an unrepresented poetic tendency within Wales.....a volume not to be missed."
    - Matthew Jarvis (on Selected Later Poems) in Poetry Wales Vol 43 No 3, Jan 2008

  • "Peter Finch is a fine psychogeographer, a consummate chronicler of place both literal and ethereal, able to chop words with gleeful precision.... Real Wales is a reminder that he who first cooked up the concept remains its sharpest protagonist."
    - Mike Parker (on Real Wales) in New Welsh Review #84, May, 2009

  • "Finch manages that careful balance between wit and seriousness to great effect in Zen Cymru. He and it deserve to be widely read and enjoyed."
    - Kate Noakes (on Zen Cymru) in
    Ellipsis Poetry. May, 2010

  • "Read Finch's 'Zen Cymru' deep into the night accompanied by the sound of vuvuzelas. Compulsive reading. Recommend it. Master of staccato wit."
    -Mike Jenkins (on Zen Cymru) on his blog, June, 2010

  • "These are poems lived in the modern world of the modern man, who lives in urban Cardiff, in the present but with memories of a lively past."
    -Steve Waling (on Zen Cymru) in Stride Magazine. July, 2010

  • "The standout performance of the evening came from Cardiff writer and Academi chief executive Peter Finch. A big, imposing Welshman dressed all in black, he was forced to hunch in the low-ceilinged yurt, like an ogre in a doll's house. The poems he chose were rancorous, unyielding and immensely powerful, and not so much read as spat at the audience."
    - Nathan Williams (on Finch reading for Oxfam's Readathon) in Cardiff Poet Storms Welsh Readathon, Guardian Cardiff. July, 2010

  • "It is the work of a playful, questioning and serious mind, willing to take on the big themes and engage in a national literary tradition that it is energetically helping to sustain"
    - Nick Asbury (on Zen Cymru) in Eyewear, September 2010

  • "Finch recognises that he may not want to be the immediate inheritor of Ginsberg's throne, but he certainly composes with a range of cultural references and surprises our expectations"
    -Nerys Williams (on Zen Cymru) in Poetry Wales Vol 46 #2, October, 2010

  • "Peter Finch is a one-off, and his latest collection, Zen Cymru, offers a characteristically unpredictable sortie through his omnivorous imagination. Readers familiar chiefly with Finch's live performances and web projects may be surprised by the lyrical scope of the work that appears in this collection alongside energetic list poems and process-derived and concrete poems.
    -Tiffany Atkinson (on Zen Cymru) in Planet #201, February, 2011

  • "Peter Finch was one of the leading figures for the sixties in Britain. I knew about Finchy even from Carshalton and Finch's concrete poetry performances were always completely electrifying in a way that gave me part of my courage to work a few things through. I don't like to use the word 'deconstruct' but in fact he was using words as a musician uses a phrases, he was turning words around and looking at them from different points of view and, as it sounded, getting emotionally involved and I thought that's what we want in poetry - emotion, genuine emotion. Peter always had emotion."
    - Chris Torrance in an interview with Rhys Trimble in Poetry Wales Vol 46 #4, April, 2011

  • "To be honest there was not a lot I liked until I got to Peter Finch's poem. Peter read at the launch, and yes, he was possibly the most important person to read, but in contrast to all those who think they're important, he stood out as the most eccentric, and definitely the most interesting. It only take a little bit of extra effort sometimes!"
    - Engleburt Bartfast reviewing The Listening Shell in Square 10, May, 2011

  • "Putting large poems in tiny spaces, I now own the splay and splendour of Peter Finch's The Insufficiency of Christian Teaching On the Subject of Common Emotional Problems, Smallminded Books, (2011).
    - Rob Mclennan
    on his Blog, June. 2011

  • "Finch has never been anything if not agile and improvisatory, and he remains both of these in Zen Cymru.... (the book) sees him take a moving step into the terrain of conventional lyric elegy.
    - Dai George (on Zen Cymru), NWR Blog, June, 2011

  • "perhaps more than anything else he is known as a highly animated, kinetic performer of his work – or at any rate that part of it which is geared towards public recital. Performance poetry, if it is going to work, must be egalitarian, not elitist. As Finch has acknowledged, such poems need to be ‘accessible’, and ‘humour is an advantage’. Finch, then, is a lot of things, and after publishing more than 20 collections of poetry, he gives no indication of running out of steam."
    - Rory Waterman British Council website

  • "Me and Johnny really enjoyed Peter Finch's poetry and music set yesterday. No need to go to New York when that kinda experimental vibe is brought straight to you, really. The poems were philosophical-but-fizzy, satirical-yet-elegiac in parts. Johnny was quoting them all the way home (and then some). If you get the chance to see the show, we highly recommend it. You'll get a delicious brain-fry/spirit-surge feeling from all the amazing imagery. A really inspiring poet x"
    -Mab Jones (on a performance of Peter Finch and Ashley John Long Visit Lidl) on Facebook, June 2015

  • "Yet another fascinating layer of Cardiff is peeled away by Peter Finch in his latest volume, Real Cardiff - The Flourishing City. It certainly does flourish as this insightful Cardiffian continues his exploration of the obvious and hidden vistas of the city, discovering new treasures and revisiting past haunts to find them drastically altered over just ten years. Finch reveals a rapid pace of change, overtaking even the industrial booms of the city's nineteenth century heyday, and the clearances and redevelopment of the 1960s and 1970s. The book is a typically eclectic mix, as Finch walks through the city and through his memories, locating the odd and the outlandish and measuring them against the everyday. Here are the last days of Dic Penderyn, a litany of rock and roll on Queen Street, the battle for the Vulcan pub, the lost mansions of the east, the culinary odyssey of City Road, Roald Dahl in Radyr, the Lido at Llandaff, the Coast path, and a journey round the city's mosques, among many other strolls and diversions. There is always more to discover in Cardiff, as Finch keenly, humorously, interestingly, and consistently reminds us."
    -Morgannwg, April, 2019

  • "There will come a time when one can write about innovative Welsh poetry and not mention Peter Finch, but that time is not now. In Wales, all innovative poetic roads lead Finch. He has been innovating with remarkable consistency and ingenuity for over half a century. In both a Welsh, if not a UK context, it is hard to think of someone so consistent in the field for so long."
    -Cris Paul in Poetry Wales, summer 2021


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