Mark Ford

Mark Ford teaches English at UCL and presents the LRB podcast series Close Readings with Seamus Perry. His fourth collection of poetry, Enter, Fleeing, was published in 2018.

‘Is there anybody there?’ the Traveller asks in ‘The Listeners’, Walter de la Mare’s poem from 1912. It’s a question that at first seems to go unanswered, for the mysterious silent inhabitants sequestered behind the moonlit door on which he raps refuse to reveal themselves or to respond to him out loud. As often happens in the recessed, shadowy, fugitive...

Of Philip Larkin’s​ many ostentatiously ‘less deceived’ accounts of family life, among my favourites is the soaring riff that concludes his introduction to All What Jazz (1970), a collection of mainly unimpressed reviews of John Coltrane, Miles Davis et al that initially appeared in the Telegraph. ‘Sometimes I imagine them,’ he muses of the readers of his...

Born,​ out of wedlock, in Rome in 1880 to a high-spirited, convent-educated but unconventional young aristocrat of Russian, Polish and Italian descent, the poet Apollinaire was given no fewer than five prénoms by his mother: his full name, in its French version, was Guillaume-Albert-Wladimir-Alexandre-Apollinaire de Kostrowitzky. During his schooldays in Monaco he was known as...

Poem: ‘Love Triangle’

Mark Ford, 22 March 2018

Here – ahem – is a motif that has proved popular in many diverse cultures in many eras: think, for instance of Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere; or think if you dare, of your own turbid y-y-y-youth.

In Fiery Letters: F.T. Prince

Mark Ford, 8 February 2018

Although​ during his lifetime F.T. Prince (1912-2003) acquired a number of illustrious admirers – including those poetic polar opposites, Geoffrey Hill and John Ashbery – his poetry is still not widely known. ‘Soldiers Bathing’, it’s true, is likely to feature in any anthology or critical account of the poetry of the Second World War, and assiduous scholars of...

If Hardy was half a modern Londoner, the other half had a weakness for the pastoral-oracular. The two halves changed shape, feeding and modifying each other.

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Earthworm on Zither: Raymond Roussel

Paul Grimstad, 26 April 2012

‘I have travelled a great deal,’ Raymond Roussel wrote towards the end of his life, ‘but from all these travels I never took anything for my books.’ It’s an odd...

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Fronds and Tenrils: Mark Ford

Helen Vendler, 29 November 2001

Suppose, having been betrayed – ‘hooked/then thrown back’ – you decide to let your instant reflex, a desire for revenge, cool off overnight; then suppose you wake up the...

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In the Anti-World: Raymond Roussel

Nicholas Jenkins, 6 September 2001

In 1924 the Surrealist Benjamin Péret was eager, like many artists then and since, to relate his own interests to the works of the rich, bizarre and innovative French poet, novelist and...

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Eternal Feminine

Ian Gregson, 7 January 1993

The excitable, exuberant surface of Mark Ford’s poems makes them instantly attractive. They speak with a bewildered urgency: See, no hands! she cried Sailing down the turnpike, And flapped...

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