Lavinia Greenlaw

Lavinia Greenlaw has published six collections of poetry, including, most recently, The Built Moment, and three novels as well as two volumes of memoir, The Importance of Music to Girls and Some Answers without Questions. She is a professor of creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Out All Day with His Axe: ‘Osebol’

Lavinia Greenlaw, 18 August 2022

Where​ is Osebol? Marit Kapla offers no introduction to this oral history of a Swedish village, just a map showing the southern half of the country and a cluster of places along the Klarälven river, which crosses from Norway. Much of the life of the village – education, work, shopping, fun – occurs in these other places. There are the secondary schools in Stöllet and...

Why couldn’t she be fun? Nico gets her own back

Lavinia Greenlaw, 24 February 2022

Nico was what is now called ‘extra’ and used to be called ‘too much’. Her relationship with her own presence is what makes her so potent. She’s there and not there. You can’t take your eyes off her, but don’t feel you’ve properly seen her.

Diana of the Upper Air

Lavinia Greenlaw, 29 July 2021

Fora short while the highest point of the New York skyline was marked by a girl standing on tiptoe. At night she was also the brightest point, the focus of 66 incandescent lamps and ten spotlights, at a time when there was little electric light in the city. During the day, the sun detonated her gilded surface and she ‘flashed against a green-blue sky’, as Willa Cather described...

All hail the microbe: Things Pile Up

Lavinia Greenlaw, 18 June 2020

InFootprints: In Search of Future Fossils, David Farrier reaches into the past in order to envisage the deep future. This can only ever be an extrapolation of the present – our knowledge, experience, language and ideas – but Farrier is relaxed about this. His focus is on the way life has been recorded in the substance of the world, the ways we can trace human impact and the...

Johnson published a scandalous, bestselling novel at the age of 23. By the time she married C.P. Snow, her second husband, she had written 13 books. The biographical note to these new Hodder editions says, somewhat slyly, that ‘for thirty years they formed an ambitious and infamous couple.’ The Encyclopaedia Britannica summarises her as an ‘English novelist who treated moral concerns with a light but sure touch’, as if she were being praised for her pastry. Johnson’s writing is more industrial than domestic.

It is hard to make a living from poetry. Lavinia Greenlaw has turned her hand to all manner of activities to support her work – publishing, teaching, arts administration, posts as...

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Send no postcards, take no pictures

John Redmond, 21 May 1998

Kenneth Koch ends his fine and amusing collection, One Train, with a sequence called ‘On Aesthetics’, which, amongst many other things, takes in the aesthetics of Paul Valéry,...

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Ever so comfy

James Wood, 24 March 1994

Every handful of John Updike’s silver has its square coin, its bad penny, its fake. This exquisitely careful writer tends to relax into flamboyance: it is the verbal equivalent of...

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