Christopher Middleton

Christopher Middleton is an English writer who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.

Poem: ‘Dead Button: China Command Aircrew’

Christopher Middleton, 2 October 1997

Now the dead button does not stick, Where should we put it? The rock face We hit, propellers feathering, off the map, Provided our skeletons, but first Sorrow, deep, no news, a lacuna cut out

In the air. Twenty-six I was, ships below. Our bombs away we headed for home. No home. Told it was under attack, we Deviated, where to, beneath us brown Rice-paddies, we supposed, then up

Soaring toward...

Poem: ‘Missing Frogs’

Christopher Middleton, 9 July 1992

Little frogs why don’t I hear you any more?

This is your time of the year. It was your custom to croak.

All through the night, the throb. Spellbound, repetitive, too,

I was in the house, enslaved. A frog should croak in deep water.

Your creek was dry, you were frogs, not princes, I was never a slave.

Where are your needling, primordial contradictions? I heard them.

Your cry carved the...

Poem: ‘Zoo’

Günter Kunert, translated by Christopher Middleton, 3 September 1981

Relatives with Latin names faces of hide and plume hands of leather and horn eyes like glass you can see through to the depth of evolution where the simple feelings live fear and longing old and dark shadows

Your gaze comes back from there changed by the journey strange it looks at you as if you had no part in it now

Poem: ‘People in Kansas, 1910’

Christopher Middleton, 5 June 1980


Now they stand quite still on level doorsteps, Outside the Drug Store and the Post Office.

A white sky, two buildings underneath it, Outside the buildings half a dozen people.

Across the dust like dice the buildings rolled, Stopped under the white sky.

Soon the people prised them open, clambered out. Here at last. Here, they said, is Dorrance.


Stiff, like effigies, almost, Made of...

So irregular, appealing and – if one may say – so pitiable a figure is the Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878-1956) that he comfortably resists summary description. Even his biographer,...

Read more reviews

Michael Hofmann reads his father’s book

Michael Hofmann, 25 June 1987

After thirty years teaching German literature and writing radio plays, my father suddenly began to write fiction. Our Conquest was his fifth book in five years, and the second to be translated...

Read more reviews


John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

Professor Vendler’s soul is in peril. Reviewing Black American broadsides in 1974, she found it ‘sinful that anthologies and Collected Works should betray the poems they print by...

Read more reviews

Making sense

Denis Donoghue, 4 October 1984

In ‘A Wave’, the title-poem of his new collection, John Ashbery says, among many other things: One idea is enough to organise a life and project it Into unusual but viable forms, but...

Read more reviews

Canetti and Power

John Bayley, 17 December 1981

Henry James writes of a very grand lady that she had ‘an air of keeping, at every moment, every advantage’. Paradoxically, the same would be true of the literary personality of Elias...

Read more reviews


Derek Mahon, 5 June 1980

It would be disingenuous of me to pretend that I have taken the full measure, or anything like it, of Middleton’s Carminalenia, an intensely difficult collection about as far removed from...

Read more reviews

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences