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Monkeys at Rewa

Alan Ross, 5 October 1995

... Peering through bougainvillea that sits On their heads like mob caps, Monkeys set up advance posts. Soon, hands to ears, as if telephoning, They establish links, At pre-arranged signals swarming In formation. Temples’ bronze domes Attract them. They pick up stones With their tails Hurling them like cricketers, Wizened businessmen On a company spree ...

G. Lineker

Alan Ross, 6 December 1990

... A style suggested by a name, A way of comportment, of playing – In the merging of ‘line’ and ‘glint’ Necessary elusiveness, hint Of mother of pearl, ‘nacreous’, As in the opening, knife-edged, Of two halves of an oyster. In the music of Satie there is Similar opportunism, echoes And chances taken up, exploited – ‘Striker’ and ‘lion’, a ‘cur’ Hanging around on the off-chance ...

Pipelines at Al Alimadi

Alan Ross, 18 November 1993

... Like lengths of spaghetti or croquet hoops Pipelines stacked on the jetty. Around them, cranes in suspension Claw like dentists’ drills. Containers are less than their shadows Under sky the colour of putty, And heat, swooning to mirage, Nullifies effort. Only tankers move in the Gulf, Their wakes unzipping silence, Their crews mute signatories To a war at half-cock ...

U 244

Alan Ross, 12 March 1992

... Anticipating our zigzag, as if somehow By information or low Cunning, she knew our speed And course, she contrived a need For company. She came at us From all angles, silently, without fuss, A whine on the asdic, homing in. We readied depth charges, prepared Our tin fish. She moved away, Out of the sea’s swing and sway, As if hurt, a rebuffed lover, Whose hide-and-seek was over ...

Two Poems

Alan Ross, 23 February 1995

... Tyniec A Benedictine abbey, the S of a river Feathered by willows. The rural life Placed on a platter, barns, A church spire, cottages. A farmer drives his cattle Over water-meadows, geese on a playing-field like footballers In 4 – 2 – 4 formation. An atmosphere of grunt and mud, A liquid greenness. Mist rises; even now it’s not fanciful To imagine it, laced with cyanide, Leaking from Oswiecim ...

Three Poems

Alan Ross, 28 November 1996

... A Calcutta Office Entering my father’s old office In Bankshall Street, the cries of paan sellers And Hooghley steamer sirens Drifting through shuttered windows, I feel like a thief – The desks in the same places, The punkahs revolving, peons on their stations, But the whole room shrunken, As if by his absence, an empire meanwhile And himself come to grief ...

The Pain of History

Stephen Brook, 19 February 1981

The Star-Apple Kingdom 
by Derek Walcott.
Cape, 58 pp., £2.50, March 1980, 0 224 01780 2
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Selected Poems 1961-1978 
by David Holbrook.
Anvil, 143 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 85646 066 4
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Death Valley and Other Poems in America 
by Alan Ross.
London Magazine Editions, 92 pp., £3, June 1980, 0 904388 32 8
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Poems 1955-1980 
by Roy Fisher.
Oxford, 193 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 211935 4
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A.R.T.H.U.R. & M.A.R.T.H.A. 
by Laurence Lerner.
Secker, 69 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 436 24440 3
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... or on ‘My Father’s Gay Funeral’. Death Valley grew out of various journeys in America that Alan Ross made in the 1970s. The sense of travel is constant: Ross delights in place names, highway numbers, lists, descriptions. Too much so: the effect is often that of jottings in a notebook (to which he refers in a ...

Dogface

Ian Hamilton, 28 September 1989

Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 330 pp., £15, September 1989, 0 19 503797 9
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War like a Wasp: The Lost Decade of the Forties 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 241 12531 6
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... is indeed bright with insiderism as he treks around Fitzrovia with Tambimuttu, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Dylan Thomas and the gang. ‘Senses were heightened, perceptions changed, new visions possible,’ he burbles, but even he finds it hard to convince himself that this heady atmosphere produced much in the way of even half-decent poetry and ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... from that age almost unique example of continuity in distinction. Another fine poet and editor, Alan Ross, can look back on a long and successful custodianship of the London Magazine: but this second volume of autobiography – the first, Blindfold Games, began what should be a memorable series – again shows how much more colourful his life has been ...

Sorry to go on like this

Ian Hamilton: Kingsley Amis, 1 June 2000

The Letters of Kingsley Amis 
edited by Zachary Leader.
HarperCollins, 1208 pp., £24.99, May 2000, 0 00 257095 5
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... such things’? And then there were the one-per-letter put-downs of current literary rivals. Alan Ross, Amis notes in 1946, is being touted as a ‘promising young writer’, a designation for which, at this time, Amis yearned: A promising young writer. A promising young writer. A promising young writer. A promising young writer. A STEWPID LITTEL ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Sport Poetry, 23 January 1986

... to go home.And so I did, and stayed there for three months. Until last week. I’d been reading Alan Ross’s excellent new autobiography Blindfold Games,* somewhat stirred by the book’s several heartfelt passages on sport-as-art: ‘The development of a style in prose and poetry and the perfecting of a stroke at cricket or rackets have much in ...

Seriously ugly

Gabriele Annan, 11 January 1990

Weep no more 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 166 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 241 12200 7
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... It is impossible to give a full list, but among those chosen were Peter Quennell, Feliks Topolski, Alan Ross, Kenneth Tynan and Charles Addams, as well as a lot of extras with names like Old B., the Bastard and Chuff. She did not waste her time with intellectuals, but absorbed their appreciation of art and literature. She has always got her nose in Henry ...

The Purser’s Tale

Frank Kermode, 5 April 1984

Home and Dry: Memoirs III 
by Roy Fuller.
London Magazine Editions, 165 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 904388 47 6
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... be that he was long ago misled by the name of a Scottish team: but can it be that his publisher, Alan Ross, suffers the same inveterate delusion? Perhaps this is one of those tiny harmless in-jokes of which the author is so fond, and which contribute so much to one’s entertainment. This last volume is mostly concerned with the Navy, a service in which ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... and furiously defended the Liberal cause at the Punch table. John himself had been at Eton with Alan Pryce-Jones, Anthony Powell, Eric Blair and Cyril Connolly, who, we are told, stood at the door of his room in the Sixth Form Passage asking, ‘Well, Johnny Lehmann, how are you this afternoon?’ While he was at Trinity his sister Rosamond published her ...

With the Woolwich

C.H. Sisson, 18 July 1985

New and Collected Poems: 1934-84 
by Roy Fuller.
Secker in association with London Magazine Editions, 557 pp., £14.95, June 1985, 0 436 16790 5
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The Sea at the Door 
by Sylvia Kantaris.
Secker, 70 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 23070 4
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... stuck to his old literary guns as to his rather ingenuous politics, as he boasts or confesses to Alan Ross, who is one of the dedicatees: We disagree in much, I know: I’m over-fond of Uncle Joe; You find in Auden not an era – Simply a poet who grows queerer; The working class for you’s a fact, No statue in the final act. And really not much ...

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