Harold Pinter began and ended his writing life as a poet. “New Year in the Midlands” was published by Poetry London in 1950, and in 2005 Pinter announced that he had given up writing plays in order to concentrate on politics and poetry. This article discusses five categories of poetry by Pinter: (1) the Dylan Thomasesque (from the 1940s onwards); (2) love poems to Antonia Fraser; (3) cricket poems; (4) elegies; and (5) political poems (mainly from the 1990s, and published together in the pamphlet War [2003]). It argues that his Dylan Thomasesque poems, such as “New Year in the Midlands” and “I Shall Tear off my Terrible Cap” (1951), openly engage with an aesthetic, humanist, Jewish, and theatrical ambiguity. Although Pinter's later poems (like his later plays) strive for emotional and political clarity, they too share an aesthetic and linguistic no-man's-land somewhere between utopian celebration and dystopian trauma.

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