Will Rowe - the pre-eminent British Vanguard critic of the latter 20th century

I have the great privilege of being associated with Will Rowe in a number of ways. He edited my book Fights for Veer, he was pivotal in my early involvement with the Writers forum and he is my doctoral supervisor. I am perhaps biased when calling him the most considerable scholar of the avant garde in this country of the last half century, eye to eye with Eric Mottram. As Stephen Watts said so eloquently at this event, held for Will's retirement, and absolutely packed to the rafters with admirers, friends, colleagues, well wishers and some of the best poets of his generation and the two or three following, Will is the consummate witness - never disturbing the integrity of his subjects, the great avant gardists of our time, but complimenting them, growing an understanding of their work and their selves, always alongside. Integrity is the word I would associate with Will, integrity and responsibility. Will's vast career is a testament to a life spent in pursuit of an ideal, and one which has been wholly successful. It is humbling to be before it, so very much aware my own piffling journey is just
beginning. This was a great evening. A day of talks were rounded off with a three hour reading session which featured some of the finest and warmest and most intense readings I've witnessed. Often I believe the London avant garde community has elements of stand offishness which can create unfortunately tapered atmospheres, but not on this day, so far away was that feeling of defence. This was all about celebration, about a genuine feeling of respect. Sean Bonney, Martin Bakero, Carol Watts were just a few whose variant styles and performances genuinely captivated everyone. It was delightful to see people come from around the globe to celebrate Will and his work, and all the more so that we could all share it in one place at one time, in an environment that truly represented his achievement.