Their Mad Gallopade

Patrick McGuinness

  • Selected Poems by Nancy Cunard
    Carcanet, 304 pp, £12.99, October 2016, ISBN 978 1 78410 236 4

When male poets have dramatic, bohemian or tragic lives, it is a triumph of consistency; when they have boring ones, it is a triumph of manly compartmentalisation. The rules are different for women: their tragedy and bohemianism must occlude their writing (while also keeping it marketable), and any gift they display for normality – or, worse, happiness – must be proof of the unlivedness of their poetry, its existential insincerity.

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