August 19, 2012

New edition of the book on poet Harry Fainlight edited by Dave Tomlin.

A new edition of the book on the English poet Harry Fainlight originally edited by Dave Tomlin in 2008 is out now thanks Iconoclast  Press of London.

Harry Fainlight
Titled "Fragments of a lost voice" (67 pp.), it's dedicated to the eccentric iconoclast poet Harry Fainlight, dead in 1982 after a 47 years very troubled life (
The book can be obtained making a cheque of 6 pounds to Dave Tomlin at:   1a, Princess Court, 68, Pilgrim's Lane, London NW3 ISP.

Phil Baker on a recent review of it published by "Times Literary Suppliment", the most prestigious literary newspaper in England: "One of the best minds of a generation destroyed by madness, Harry Fainlight was also the finest poet to emerge from the 1960s underground scene in Britain, transcending it and being much admired by Ted Hughes as well as Allen Ginsberg. For the present, however, he seems doomed to be remembered largely for his performance at the International Poetry Incarnation, a poetry happening with Ginsberg that packed the Albert Hall in 1965. It was filmed as Wholly Communion, in which Fainlight can be seen reading poetry that is too serious for his audience and becoming distressed when they begin to heckle. It was a characteristically troubled moment in a life spent in and out of psychiatric hospitals; at one point Faber and Faber offered to publish him, at Ted Hughes’s suggestion, and he responded by putting a petrol-soaked rag through the firm’s letterbox".

"In 2008, twenty-years after Fainlight's dead in a field from hypothermia, a suitcase was found in a Welsh barn that contained writings in his hand, notably the unfinished drafts of two poems, "City I" and "City II". Difficult to decipher, they are preserved in Fragments of a Lost Voice, in which twenty-two poets attempt to offer transcriptions and write short pieces of their own in response. The writers, all of whom have some personal link with Fainlight, are mostly unknown... 
The poems are concerned with air and earth: a warm evening (planes descending like "brinking brain seeds") and the underground ("thro' the transparent mirror/prehistoric strata flicker"). Fainlight is one of the few poet who could make "ripe overcooked radios" something more than word salad, and amid the unresolved ambiguities the peculiar finesse of his work shines through, with its distinctive spatial qualities and co-extention of mind and environment.
The transcriptions, with their many variants, have the fascination of Chinese whispers ("the first delicate weight" or "the first deluxe night"?) and the form of this little book is probably unique. It has been admirably put together by Dave Tomlin, who describes himself not as "editor" but "curator", reflecting the "archaelogical" nature of the project".

Between the 26 poets, apart the same Tomlin, give their contribution also Steve Pank, Ursula Smith and Allen Samuel, as we know very involved into TEB's story.

A great underrated visionary poet, Harry Fainlight, I have to admit it. Enough to read this fragment, taken from "From the notebooks", a transcription of a 1979 reading edited in 2006 by Tomlin:


This is about cemeteries and death... about the philosophy of death as it presents itself today:

The miniature housing estates of nothing but tiny stone doors; as if everyone’s relatives had done some kind of Alice on them that nobody had ever really written up, and there was nothing else to show for it but these funny little stone doors indicating somewhere they had gone. For certainly the vast majority of the population had now gone over to the ‘little stone door theory’, and the cross idea had become some kind of minority cult. To adopt the cockney saying: ‘Put your religion where your monument is’, something with which any respectable archaeologist would concur; or were we only entitled to adopt the viewpoint of archaeology having reached the final means of these nowhere doors." 

London, early June, 1965. In town for International Poetry Congress at Royal Albert Hall. Poets sit on steps of Albert Memorial. Top Left: Barbara Rubiin. Back row L-R: Adrian Mitchell, Anselm Hollo, Marcus Field, Michael Horovitz, Ernst Jandl. Front row: Harry Fainlight, Alex Troicchi, Allen Ginsberg, John Esam, Dan Richter (photo: John 'Hoppy' Hopkins).

"Wholly Communion"(parts 1-4), the 1965 Pete Whitehead short documentary: in the very first sequences you can see Harry Fainlight reading his poem... Then, at 9.36, you can see Fainlight makes the integral reading with some interjections by the audience...).


"Tales from the Embassy" vol. 1 (Iconoclast Press, London 2002)
"Bluebirds"  (Iconoclast Press, London 2004)
"Howling at the Moon" (Iconoclast Press, London 2004)
"India Song"  (Iconoclast Press, London 2005)
"Tales from the Embassy" vol. 2 (Iconoclast Press, London 2006)
"The Collected Mister" (Iconoclast Press, London 2006)
"Into the Holy Land"  (Iconoclast Press, London 2007) with Tony Jackson
"Tales from the Embassy" vol. 3 (Iconoclast Press, London 2008)
"A hole in the Wind" (Iconoclast Press, London 2008) 
"Harry Fainlight. From the notebooks. Posthumous pieces" (Iconoclast Press, London 2008) edited by Tomlin
"Harry Fainlight. Fragments of a lost voice"  (Iconoclast Press, London 2008) edited by Tomlin
"Power Lines" (Iconoclast Press, London 2011)


The Bob Wallis and His New Storyville Jazzmen (UK 1959) Played soprano sax "Pendulum" - Mike Taylor Quartet (EMI, UK 1966) Played soprano sax and designed the album sleeve "Alchemy" - Third Ear Band (Harvest, UK 1969) played violin on a track ("Lark rise") composed by him  "Ancient Gates" - High Tide (World Wide Records, Germany 1990) Played violin, keyboards and bass "Strange Attractor" - Hazchem (World Wide Records, Germany 1990) Played violin, bass, keyboards and guitar in some tracks "Star Map Excursion" - Hazchem (World Wide Records, Germany 1991) Composed two tracks for the album "Magus" - Third Ear Band (Angel Heart, UK 2005) Played bass and edited the CD booklet liner notes

             August 2010: Dave Tomlin (on left) with Steve Pank in London (photo: L. Ferrari)

Follow Dave Tomlin on International Times Web site at:

no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   


  1. TEB seems to have been featured on the french tv show Pop Deux may, 28 1970 ,as stated here :

    Descriptive Information
    Ina Number: CPF86653646
    Programme Title: KEVIN AYERS
    Collection Title: POP DEUX
    Credits: Blanc Francard, Patrice ; Ayers, Kevin ; Third Ear Band ; Grumbach, Rémy ; Dumay, Maurice
    First broadcast Date: 28/05/1970
    Running-time: 002930
    Summary: Patrice BLANC FRANCARD presents this third edition(publishing) of the POP program(emission) 2.
    - The BEATLES sings let it be (purchase).

    - Clips(extracts) of Kevin AYERS's concert given to the Inn of the Olympia.
    - Service(performance) scènique of THIRD EAR BAND.
    Category Information
    Type of Archive: non theme-based archive
    Type of Collection: Production
    Type of Documentary Note: Isolated note
    Genre: Magazine
    Themes: Variety shows
    Production Information
    Type of Production: Production propre
    Broadcasting Information
    First broadcast Date: 28/05/1970
    Time of First Broadcast: 225200
    Channel: 2nd channel
    Channel Name: Office Radio Télévision France
    Technical Information
    Status of Equipment: digitised

    Unfortunately ,it is not available on

    But maybe there's a way to ask for it if duly authorised :
    "The service is intended for audiovisual professionals working on projects that incorporate Ina documents, and potential buyers or prescribers of operating rights. These professionals include: researchers, producers, journalists, authors, directors, broadcasters, programmers, and exhibition designers..."



    1. Many, many thanks SB, it's a real great thing!
      I'll try to understand what can I do to get this broadcast. It would be great for each of us to have more footages of the Band!