The poet and editor Michael Horovitz, who has died aged 86 after a fall, championed poetry as a vital and democratic force that needed liberating from the academic world and the printed page. His quest began in the late 1950s and when the British underground got under way in the mid-60s he was a mischievous and anarchic participant.
Along with Spike Milligan and Vanessa Redgrave, in 1966 he appeared in the New Moon Carnival of Poetry in the Round at the Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington, London, an event at which, according to a press report: “Rowdyism, bad language and the breaking of glasses and bottles marked an ad lib ‘poetry event’.” Such was the uproar that poetry events were subsequently banned at the hall for 18 years.
Horovitz wrote a dozen books of poetry, but is best known for his editorship of New Departures, a little poetry magazine that he co-founded with Anna Lovell and David Sladen in 1959.
Tired with the parochialism of British literary culture of the time, in which TS Eliot and WH Auden dictated taste, Horovitz embraced the transnational avant garde. The first issue of New Departures began with William Burroughs and ended with Samuel Beckett, setting the magazine’s tone for the next three decades. Contributors included Jack Kerouac and Ted Hughes, and there were illustrations by David Hockney.