Michael Horovitz

BornMichael Yechiel Ha-Levi Horovitz
(1935-04-04)4 April 1935
Frankfurt am Main, Nazi Germany
Died7 July 2021(2021-07-07) (aged 86)
London, England
Editor of New Departures
Notable worksChildren of Albion (editor)
(m. 1964; div. 1980)
ChildrenAdam Horovitz

Michael Yechiel Ha-Levi Horovitz OBE (4 April 1935 – 7 July 2021) was a German-born British poet, editor, visual artist and translator who was a leading part of the Beat Poetry scene in the UK. In 1959, while still a student, he founded the "trail-blazing" literary periodical New Departures, publishing experimental poetry, including the work of William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and many other American and British beat poets.[2] Horovitz read his own work at the 1965 landmark International Poetry Incarnation, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, deemed to have spawned the British underground scene, when an audience of more than 6,000 came to hear readings by the likes of Ginsberg, Burroughs, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.[1]

Characterised as an early champion of oral and jazz poetry,[3] Horovitz in the following decades organised many "Live New Departures" events featuring poetry and jazz performances by a range of writers and musicians, including Adrian Mitchell and Stan Tracey.[4] Horovitz also devised the Poetry Olympics festival, held for the first time in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in 1980, with participants over the years including Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Cooper Clarke, Paul McCartney, Eliza Carthy and Damon Albarn.[4][5]

Life and career

Horovitz was born in 1935 in Frankfurt, then in Nazi Germany.[1][6] He was the youngest of ten children who were brought to Britain in 1937 by their Jewish parents, Rosi (née Feist) and Dr Avraham Horovitz,[1][7] both of whom were part of a network of European rabbinical families, and from London Dr Horovitz helped organise routes for other Jewish families to flee the Holocaust.[1]

Michael Horovitz attended William Ellis School in north London, and went on to read English at Brasenose College, Oxford, from 1954 to 1960.[1][7] In 1959, while still a student, he founded the periodical New Departures,[8] publishing authors such as William S. Burroughs, Samuel Beckett, and Stevie Smith. Horovitz continued to edit New Departures for 50 years.[9] He coordinated many poetry events such as "Live New Departures", Jazz Poetry Super Jams and the Poetry Olympics festivals.[10] Though initially associated with the British Poetry Revival, Horovitz became known by his appearance at the International Poetry Incarnation at the Royal Albert Hall on 11 June 1965, alongside Allen Ginsberg and Alexander Trocchi.[9][11]

In 1969, Penguin Books published Horovitz's Children of Albion anthology. Introducing him to New York City in 1970, Ginsberg characterised him as a "Popular, experienced, experimental, New Jerusalem, Jazz Generation, Sensitive Bard".[9]

In 1971, Horovitz published The Wolverhampton Wanderer, an epic of Britannia, in twelve books, with a resurrection & a life for poetry united, with an original dustjacket by Peter Blake. The book is a collection of British artists of the period, with illustrations and photographs by Peter Blake, Michael Tyzack, Adrian Henri, Patrick Hughes, Gabi Nasemann, Paul Kaplan, John Furnival, Bob Godfrey, Pete Morgan, Jeff Nuttall, David Hockney, as well as Horovitz and others. It is a visual and literary elegy to the culture surrounding association football up to the 1960s, celebrating not only Wolves and its supporters, but also Arsenal, Spurs, and teams from the North. Horovitz's Growing Up: Selected Poems and Pictures, 1951–79 was published by Allison & Busby in 1979.[6]

In 2007, Horovitz published A New Waste Land: Timeship Earth at Nillennium, described by D. J. Taylor in The Independent as "a deeply felt clarion-call from the radical underground", and by Tom Stoppard as "A true scrapbook and songbook of the grave new world".[11]

Horovitz stood for election as Oxford Professor of Poetry in 2010 (supported by Tony Benn).[12] Contributing to The Guardian, Horovitz wrote then:

I would most likely pitch some of my lectures around the legacies of my closest comrades in the broad continuum of poetry, from David and Solomon to James Joyce, Sappho to Bessie Smith, Beowulf to Lead Belly, medieval troubadours to the beat generation, Keats to Bob Dylan and Blake to Beckett.[13]

In the same article he emphasised the connections between art media, stage and page poetry, and his wish to extend "communal paths my bardmobile has struck over the last five decades."[13] In the event. Horovitz came second, in a field of 11, to Geoffrey Hill.[14]

In January 2011, Horovitz contributed to an eBook collection of political poems entitled Emergency Verse – Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State, edited by Alan Morrison. An eccentric and colourful part of the UK poetry scene,[6] Horovitz fronted the William Blake Klezmatrix band (his hero being the 19th-century poet and painter William Blake)[4] in which he played the "anglo-saxophone", an updated and extended eunuch flute of his own devising.[7] To celebrate Horovitz's 80th birthday, a limited-edition album was produced of a 2013 recording of his poem sequence "Bankbusted Nuclear Detergent Blues", on which he is accompanied by Paul Weller, Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn.[15]

Personal life and death

Horovitz was married to the English poet Frances Horovitz (1938–1983),[9] their son Adam Horovitz (born 1971) is also a poet, performer and journalist.[7][16]

Michael Horovitz's home was in Notting Hill, London.[7][17][18] In his later years, it became a notoriously chaotic repository of his personal papers and archives. "Indoor skip it may seem to you, but compared to Francis Bacon's studio, my pad here is Versailles", he said in a 2010 Evening Standard interview.[7] Horovitz was a loyal supporter of Arsenal Football Club.[4]

Horovitz died at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, on 7 July 2021, at the age of 86.[19][20][21] He was also recognised for his artwork and at the time of his death a two-week exhibition of his "Bop Art paintings, collages and picture poems" was opening at the Chelsea Arts Club (6–25 July).[2][22]



As editor

As translator

On art

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Michael Horovitz obituary". The Times. 10 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b Newey, Jon (8 July 2021). "Michael Horovitz OBE (04/04/1935 – 07/07/2021)". Jazzwise.
  3. ^ "Torchbearer | Introducing Michael Horovitz". Poetry Olympics. 25 October 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Warner, Simon (10 July 2021). "Michael Horovitz obituary: A hero of British radical poetry". The New European.
  5. ^ Brown, Mick (29 September 2020). "Archive, 1980: first Poetry Olympics held in Westminster Abbey". The Guardian.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Michael Horovitz Biography". jrank.org. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Willis, Tim (15 June 2010). "Portrait of the beatnik as an old poet". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  8. ^ John-Paul Pryor, "Michael Horovitz: Grandfather of Albion", Dazed, March 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e Noel-Tod, Jeremy; Ian Hamilton, eds. (2013). "Horovitz, Michael (1935– )". The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry in English. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-19-964025-6.
  10. ^ Birmingham, Jed (12 December 2007). "New Departures". RealityStudio. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  11. ^ a b Neale, Greg (May 2015). "In the Beginning Were the Words". Resurgence. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  12. ^ Flood, Alison (29 April 2010). "Michael Horovitz looks to 'shake up' Oxford poetry professor race". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  13. ^ a b Horovitz, Michael (28 May 2010). "Out of the poetic mire". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  14. ^ Flood, Alison (18 June 2010). "'A poet of great eminence': Geoffrey Hill's landslide victory restores prestige to Oxford professorship". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Michael Horovitz 12" LP (Limited Edition)", 2016.
  16. ^ Stevenson, Anne (6 July 2016). "Frances Horovitz". Poetry Magazines. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  17. ^ "British beat poet Michael Horovitz still writing and performing", BBC News, 6 August 2010.
  18. ^ "Poetry Happenings with Michael Horovitz", The Poetry Society, Young Poets Network, 2012.
  19. ^ "Michael Horovitz obituary". The Guardian. 11 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Michael Horovitz's final New Departure". The Poetry Society. 8 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Michael Horovitz, performance poet in the 1960s Beat tradition renowned for his quirky musical improvisations – obituary". The Telegraph. 8 July 2021. (subscription required)
  22. ^ "Exhibitions". Chelsea Arts Club. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  23. ^ Barry Cole: Review: Of Relative Importance Ambit Magazine 1966
  24. ^ a b c Sicher, Efraim: Michael Horovitz (born 1935) in Beyond Marginality: Anglo-Jewish Literature After the Holocaust, Suny Press, 2012, pp. 217–218
  25. ^ "Anatol Stern. Europa". themersonarchive.com. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  26. ^ Parrinder, Patrick (1982). "Review of 'The egghead republic: a short novel from the Horse Latitudes' by Arno Schmidt, Michael Horovitz". Journal of Beckett Studies (7): 151–153. ISSN 0309-5207. JSTOR 44782697. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  27. ^ a b c "Horovitz, Michael". Encyclopedia.com. 20 June 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.