Ian Hamilton

Ian Hamilton contributed many exact, funny and unsparing pieces on poetry, on novels – and on football – to the LRB. He died in 2001.

Two Poems

Ian Hamilton, 14 January 2002

Pretending not to Sleep

The waiting rooms are full of ‘characters’ Pretending not to sleep. Your eyes are open But you’re far away At home, am Rhein, with mother and the cats. Your hair grazes my wrist. My cold hand surprises you.

The porters yawn against the slot-machines And watch contentedly; they know I’ve lost. The last train is simmering outside, and overhead...

When Allen Tate died in 1979, Simon and Schuster speedily commissioned a biography, to be written, they announced, by Ned O’Gorman, a poet of some reputation and a friend of two of Tate’s three wives. O’Gorman, it would seem, got going in the usual way, writing to all the obvious Tate contacts and attempting to interview key intimates. He also trawled through at least some...

Two Poems

Ian Hamilton, 19 April 2001

Family Album In this one you look miles away And I’m wearing a tolerant half-smile That seems to say I’ve fixed things rather well. What things?

The turreted edifice behind us I don’t recognise at all. Nor can I place These avenues of trees, abundant But municipal, well-kept.

It’s evidently summertime, and getting late, A little before supper-bell, I’d guess, Or...

Tough Guy: Keith Douglas

Ian Hamilton, 8 February 2001

Keith Douglas was 24 when he was killed in action, in 1944, and although quite a few of his poems had by then appeared in anthologies and magazines, he was not generally thought of as a significant ‘war poet’. But then, who was? ‘Where are the war poets?’ was a familiar journalistic cry from 1939 to 1945, and few answers were forthcoming. There were two main poetic...

Do you have a friend who keeps a diary, a journal intime? If so, you’d better watch your mouth – indeed, watch everything about yourself, the way you dress, the way you eat, and what you eat, how much you drink, who pays the bill, and so on. Be careful, but be careful not to seem too careful:

Dec. 14: Lunch with IH. Shifty fucker, absurdly self-conscious. Ate next to nothing and...

Enisled: Matthew Arnold

John Sutherland, 19 March 1998

The last few decades have been good for Matthew Arnold. In 1977, R.H. Super completed the 11-volume Complete Prose Works, a venture that seemed quixotic (‘all those school reports!’)...

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Main Man

Michael Hofmann, 7 July 1994

When you get onto the big wheel of writing (or the little wheels within wheels of poetry), it seems clear to me that the people you look to and feel an affinity for are not – to begin with,...

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The Three Acts of Criticism

Helen Vendler, 26 May 1994

This handy compilation (to which I myself contributed a couple of notices) covers, according to the jacket copy, ‘some 1500’ poets and ‘charts the shift from...

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After-Lives

John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

A man of many literary parts, Ian Hamilton came to biography late and triumphantly with his life of the dead but still warm Robert Lowell. Riding high, he went on to attempt an unauthorised life...

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Bonded by the bottle

Michael Wood, 14 June 1990

The writer, grizzled, sun-tanned, wearing only desert boots, shorts and sunglasses, sits outdoors in a wicker chair, checking a page in his typewriter. The picture appears on the covers both of...

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My Wife

Jonathan Coe, 21 December 1989

Bloomsbury have again brought out their hefty collection of contemporary writing just in time for Christmas, and indeed the enterprise is suffused with a sort of Christmas spirit. This...

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The Salinger Affair

Julian Barnes, 27 October 1988

Listen to Jeffrey Robinson, American biographer of figures such as Sheikh Yamani, describing how he goes to work: What I usually do is get two or three months’ research under my belt...

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Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Now that poetry has been brought into the marketplace, and publishers have discovered how to make a modest profit from it, and now that publication outlets can be found in any good-sized store,...

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With more than eight hundred high-grade items to choose from, London Reviews gets the number down to just 28. But already it is the third such selection from the London Review of Books. Is three...

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Some Names for Robert Lowell

Karl Miller, 19 May 1983

Robert Lowell is not difficult to represent as the mad poet and justified sinner of the Romantic heritage. He is the dual personality who breaks the rules, kicks over the traces: he did this in...

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