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Beach Poets

Blake Morrison, 16 September 1982

The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... apparently struck by a train during one of his blackouts). Spencer’s reputation as a poet, like Robert Graves’s and Lawrence Durrell’s, has always been tainted by his association with the Mediterranean, an injustice which the Collected Poems, intelligently edited by Roger Bowen, seeks to put right. The volume shows how travel encouraged in ...

When you’d started a world war

Blake Morrison: Walter Kempowski, 20 June 2019

Homeland 
by Walter Kempowski, translated by Charlotte Collins.
Granta, 240 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 78378 352 6
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... and made contact with the American counterintelligence corps (forerunner of the CIA): his brother Robert had bills of lading which proved that the Russians were stripping East German factories and sending materials back to the Soviet Union. In 1948, on a trip home to Rostock, Kempowski was arrested by the NKVD and charged with espionage. The experience is ...

Cut-Ups

Robert Crawford, 7 December 1989

Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... to the Muse of Death, like the George MacBeth who saw England as The Cleaver Garden or the Blake Morrison who heard The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper. Yet what sets Reading apart is that he has constantly signalled that he is fascinated as much by cut-ups of the text as by cut-ups of the body, as much by style-victimisation as by atrocity. It is this ...

Edward and Tilly and George

Robert Melville, 15 March 1984

Swans Reflecting Elephants: My Early Years 
by Edward James, edited by George Melly.
Weidenfeld, 178 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 297 77988 5
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... to himself. It was not quite a disaster. Edward had arranged for slides to be made of William Blake’s engravings for the Book of Job, and projected huge enlargements onto white sheets. Everyone was bored by the Oratorio, but found the engravings an impressive spectacle, except Misia Sert, the Parisian culture queen. She had never heard of ...

Great Portland Street Blues

Karl Miller, 25 January 1990

Boswell: The Great Biographer. Journals: 1789-1795 
by James Boswell, edited by Marlies Danziger and Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 432 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 434 89729 9
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... He was the great man who was interested in great men. This could also be said of the modern poet Robert Lowell, a man of ‘tumbles and leaps’ and ‘manic crushes’ who was interested in the ‘great Boswell’ (so called by a Lady Lemon in 1792). At one point in the history of his elations and depressions Lowell was heard to speak of a trip to ...

Self-Positioning

Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... the 1950s, edited by D.J. Enright, appeared in 1955, followed a year later by New Lines, edited by Robert Conquest. Enright’s volume contained work by eight poets: Robert Conquest, D.J. Enright, Kingsley Amis, Donald Davie, John Holloway, Elizabeth Jennings, Philip Larkin and John Wain, to which list Conquest’s volume ...

Just one more species doing its best

Richard Rorty, 25 July 1991

The Later Works 1925-1953. Vol. XVII: Miscellaneous Writings, 1885-1953 
by John Dewey, edited by Jo Ann Boydston.
Southern Illinois, 786 pp., $50, August 1990, 0 8093 1661 7
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Dewey 
by J.E. Tiles.
Routledge, 256 pp., £35, December 1988, 0 415 00908 1
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John Dewey and American Democracy 
by Robert Westbrook.
Cornell, 608 pp., $32.95, May 1991, 0 8014 2560 3
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Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank and Lewis Mumford 
by Casey Blake.
North Carolina, 370 pp., $38.45, November 1990, 0 8078 1935 2
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... American intellectuals of the first half of our century – especially those discussed in Casey Blake’s Beloved Community – targeted Dewey as a symbol of all that was immature, unreflective and dangerous about the United States. In 1926 Lewis Mumford said that ‘the deficiencies of Mr Dewey’s philosophy are the deficiencies of ...

Unhappy Families

Angela Carter, 16 September 1982

The Beauties and Furies 
by Christina Stead.
Virago, 329 pp., £3.95, July 1982, 0 86068 175 0
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... Elvira – nor to pity her. Stead’s greatest moral quality as a novelist is her lack of pity. As Blake said, Pity would be no more, If we did not make somebody poor, and, for Stead, pity is otiose, a self-indulgent luxury that obscures the real nature of our relations with our kind. To disclose that real nature has always been her ...

Advice for the New Nineties

Julian Symons, 12 March 1992

HMS Glasshouse 
by Sean O’Brien.
Oxford, 56 pp., £5.99, November 1991, 0 19 282835 5
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The Hogweed Lass 
by Alan Dixon.
Poet and Printer, 33 pp., £3, September 1991, 0 900597 39 9
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Collected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £18.95, November 1991, 0 85635 923 8
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... George Barker and Edith Sitwell. Less than a decade later, with those roses seen as over-blown, Robert Conquest was deploring ‘the omission of the necessary intellectual component from poetry’, gathering several disparate writers under one umbrella, and announcing the striking out of New Lines. The Movement was succeeded by the Group (now what was ...

Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne, 7 September 2000

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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Triodes 
by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... and is also part of a vigorous poetic and critical counter-culture. His work sends critics to Blake or Wordsworth or Coleridge as often as it propels them to the OED in search of what Beckett called ‘semantic succour’; it is as likely to draw us back to the Metaphysical poets, to Hardy or to Herrick as it is to refer us to Heidegger, Bakhtin or ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... Robert Oppenheimer knew Sanskrit. Quotations from the Bhagavad Gita flashed through his mind when he witnessed the first atomic explosion in New Mexico in 1945: ‘Suppose a thousand suns should rise together into the sky: such is the glory of the Shape of the Infinite God.’ Reading that same chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in Darjeeling in 1962, Allen Ginsberg thought of something else: the coloured wheels of psilocybin-induced visions ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry, 4 October 2001

Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... Poems (1932), Reconstruction (1933) – as Georgian, countryside-centred and influenced by Robert Bridges, changing swiftly to Auden’s ‘manifesto manner’ for Difficult Morning (also 1933). I am not sure about this, especially the implicit conflict between country and town: Swingler always seems to inhabit either with ease. Certainly, he inclined ...

Bloom’s Bible

Donald Davie, 13 June 1991

The Book of J 
translated by David Rosenberg, interpreted by Harold Bloom.
Faber, 286 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 571 16111 1
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... always foredoomed, because the corrected spin never has equal impetus with the original. Consider Robert Graves’s attempt to revise Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayyam. The AV is peculiar, even so: for no magister can be detected, among King James’s translators. Ward Allen’s researches in Alabama, and Gerald Hammond’s in Manchester, have not turned up any ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Van Dyck’s Portraits, 12 March 2009

... painted in Rome in 1622. The daughter of a Christian Circassian chieftain, she had married Robert Shirley in Persia and is shown draped in a kind of tent of gold fabric – the effect of her clothes is splendidly exotic. Her thin-lipped, quizzical half-smile is less contrived than those of many of the court beauties. Clothes like hers offer a break ...

At the Hayward

Peter Campbell: Paul Klee, 21 March 2002

... and thought a lot about the nature of art and how it might be taught, and in his catalogue essay Robert Kudielka turns to the writings for explanations. In hers, Bridget Riley tells how they have informed her own thinking about abstract painting. Yet despite its aphoristic power (the expression ‘taking a line for a walk’ suggests so much about drawing ...

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