The page of Redgrove, Peter, English biography
Peter Redgrove was a writer and analytic psychologist who drew upon his training in science to provide, in his prolific output of meticulous poetry, novels and plays, an all-encompassing theory of nature and creation.
Redgrove may certainly be accommodated, without too much forcing, in a visionary tradition in English poetry that includes Henry Vaughan, Thomas Traherne, and William Blake, his personal contribution to that partly deriving from science and from modern psychology - post-Jungian would be the term in his case, post-Freudian not at all. But he brought to his creative work a humour and exuberance not always characteristic of his forebears. The poems can be absurdly funny and patently serious at the same time.
Redgrove was educated at Taunton school and Queens' College, Cambridge, to which he had won an open scholarship in natural sciences. Close university friends included Ted Hughes and Philip Hobsbaum, the latter the founder of a 1952 group of student poets which later, in London, expanded into the Group, rivalling the looser Movement associated with Philip Larkin, John Wain and Kingsley Amis. It drew in further poets like Peter Porter, Martin Bell and Fleur Adcock, and became a regular critical colloquium in which Redgrove was a powerful presence.
The sheer energy of his poems sidestepped the critical rigour desired at Group meetings. A notable first book, The Collector, published in 1960, showed an unfashionable excitement about the natural world. There were resemblances to Hughes's poetry in the subject matter, but Redgrove indulged a kind of expressionist fantasy about it. It set the style for virtually all of his later volumes, which become more and more outgoing and rapturous.
Redgrove left university to work in London (at the time of the Group connection) as a scientific journalist and copywriter. In 1961, he became a visiting poet at Buffalo University, New York state, returning to England the following year to become Gregory fellow in poetry at Leeds University (following older poets James Kirkup and John Heath-Stubbs).
Unlike later appointments, when educational institutions increasingly demanded encouragement of writing - and even teaching - from their resident writers, Leeds asked few duties of him, and the result was a large and impressive fourth book, The Force (1966), a seasonal choice of the Poetry Book Society.
The undemanding atmosphere he found at Leeds (where he was succeeded by Martin Bell in 1966) made the teaching demands on him at Colgate University, New York, as O'Connor professor of literature from 1974 to 1975, seem less congenial.
By now, he was living in Cornwall, and had formed a fruitful association with Falmouth College of Arts, as its resident author and senior lecturer in complementary studies. His exuberant and generous creative writing classes there were deeply influenced by the ideas of the Jungian psychologist and anthropologist John Layard (this providing an intriguing link with the young WH Auden, himself a temporary follower in the 1930s).
As freelance writer, teacher and psychotherapist, Redgrove set up as (his own description) an expert in "dreamwork, sexual counselling, hypnotic induction, etc." He saw his activities as poet, teacher and analyst as inseparable, applying not just to "the developed artist" but to the "ordinary person without artistic pretensions". Pursuing the vocation of the visionary psychologist - and writing about it with extraordinary imagination and passion - might have reduced the output of the poet and affected the quality of the verse. It did not; but it may have contributed to a serious underestimation of it.
Peter William Redgrove, poet, born January 2 1932; died June 16 2003.
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