Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness’s most recent collection is Blood Feather.

Poem: ‘The Cooling Towers of Didcot’

Patrick McGuinness, 4 May 2023

It was the inattentive eye that saw them best:breeze-block vases with their tapered waists,their smoky pouts. They were modest,

middle-distant; they had the permanenceof grey things: seen but rarely noticed;or, if noticed, only once.

When the dynamite sapped them, a rippleclimbed their flanks; their mouthswere trying to say something difficult.

They hesitated, as if falling was a choice,and when...

Poem: ‘Landline’

Patrick McGuinness, 16 March 2023

It grew in the hallway beside the pot plant,the ashtray, and the Yellow Pages left ajar.It started under floorboards, unspooledbetween the carpets and their waferings of underlay.

It tracked the skirtings, spined down corners,knew the smell of slippers, insoles crumblingat the heel or toe; it knew the frayed shadowsthat we threw: the address book’s fading numbers

and the crossed-out...

Outside in the Bar: Ten Years in Sheerness

Patrick McGuinness, 21 October 2021

In Uwe Johnson’s work, perspective doesn’t come from a bird’s-eye view but from staying at eye level – from looking and never stopping. His characters are suspicious of any claim that there is an omniscient history.

Diary: Oxford by Train

Patrick McGuinness, 17 June 2021

Edward Thomas​ called the approach to Oxford by train ‘the most contemptible in Europe’. There’s no view to speak of, and the station is a big shed with lots of glass and cheap detailing: blue pillars and PVC fascias. The city’s relationship to the railway, like its relationship to the world, is arrogant but insecure, high-minded but petty. Oxford was offered a...

On Joan Murray: Joan Murray

Patrick McGuinness, 20 December 2018

Joan Murray​ died of a heart defect in 1942, at the age of 24. Her first book, Poems, was published five years later, after her manuscript won the Yale Younger Poets Prize, which was judged by Auden. Murray had been his student at the New School in 1940 and, not caring for any of the manuscripts he had been sent, he asked her mother if he could publish her work instead. She agreed, but not...

Book of Bad Ends: French Short Stories

Paul Keegan, 7 September 2023

Voltaire regarded the short tale as a duel with the reader, and a form of complicity. He went out of his way to disparage the ‘littleness’ of the form, and to ridicule all fiction, as fables without...

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