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Words as Amulets

Ange Mlinko: Barbara Guest’s Poems, 3 December 2009

The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest 
edited by Hadley Haden Guest.
Wesleyan, 525 pp., £33.95, July 2008, 978 0 8195 6860 1
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Women, the New York School and Other True Abstractions 
by Maggie Nelson.
Iowa, 288 pp., £38.50, December 2007, 978 1 58729 615 4
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... If modernism is our antiquity, as T.J. Clark has claimed, then Barbara Guest was a devout classicist. No American poet – with the exception of John Ashbery – so reverently extended early modernist aesthetics into the second half of the 20th century. As Guest put it in her essay ‘Radical Poetics and Conservative Poetry’, ‘everything we loved, emulated, was attached to the lyric modernism of Baudelaire and Mallarmé’s later writing ...

Our Hero

C.H. Sisson, 25 January 1990

Richard Aldington: A Biography 
by Charles Doyle.
Macmillan, 379 pp., £19.95, November 1989, 0 333 46487 7
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... his Army service, which certainly involved episodes of action, but he ventures the remark that ‘Barbara Guest is not entirely unfair when she says that it is only necessary to compare Death of a Hero with Graves’s Goodbye to all that “to realise that Aldington’s experiences were not so desperate or tragic as he would have us ...

In the Circus

William Wootten: Low-Pressure Poetry, 3 August 2006

The Collected Poems 
by Kenneth Koch.
Knopf, 761 pp., £40, November 2005, 1 4000 4499 5
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... drinking with them at the Cedar Bar, Koch, Ashbery and O’Hara, together with James Schuyler and Barbara Guest, were labelled the New York School of poets. While, in truth, these writers didn’t form anything so well defined as a school, they influenced and encouraged one another and had a shared antipathy to the stuffy academic verse of the time. Koch ...

Accidents of Priority

John Redmond, 22 August 1996

Can You Hear, Bird 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £9.95, February 1996, 9781857542240
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The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 
by Jorie Graham.
Carcanet, 220 pp., £12.95, March 1996, 1 85754 225 8
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Selected Poems 
by Barbara Guest.
Carcanet, 220 pp., £12.95, May 1996, 1 85754 158 8
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Selected Poems 1976-1996 
by George Szirtes.
Oxford, 126 pp., £9.99, March 1996, 0 19 283223 9
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Adam’s Dream 
by Peter McDonald.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £6.95, March 1996, 1 85224 333 3
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... set of questions. Carcanet’s increasingly impressive list of American poetry also includes Barbara Guest’s Selected Poems. Like Ashbery, whose work she admires. Guest frequently uses the vocabulary and tone of art criticism ‘hard edges’, ‘colour ...

Risks

Tom Paulin, 1 August 1985

On the Contrary 
by Miroslav Holub, translated by Ewald Osers.
Bloodaxe, 126 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 906427 75 4
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The Lamentation of the Dead 
by Peter Levi.
Anvil, 40 pp., £2.95, October 1984, 0 85646 140 7
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Levi.
Anvil, 255 pp., £12, November 1984, 0 85646 134 2
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Elegies 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 64 pp., £7.50, March 1985, 0 571 13570 6
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Poems: 1963-1983 
by Michael Longley.
Salamander, 206 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 904011 77 1
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Making for the Open: The Chatto Book of Post-Feminist Poetry 
edited by Carol Rumens.
Chatto, 151 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 7011 2848 8
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Direct Dialling 
by Carol Rumens.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 7011 2911 5
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The Man Named East 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 137 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 7102 0014 5
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... marvellous poems it contains by Anne Stevenson, Fleur Adcock, Dorothy Hewett, Elizabeth Bishop, Barbara Guest, Carolyn Forché, Miriam Waddington, and Eunice De Souza, whose ‘Marriages are made’ is about an Indian arranged marriage where the girl is first given a complete medical examination before being deemed able to do justice to Francisco ...

Little Philadelphias

Ange Mlinko: Imagism, 25 March 2010

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists 
by Helen Carr.
Cape, 982 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 224 04030 3
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... he had scrawled ‘H.D. Imagiste!’ at the bottom of the page. H.D.’s biographer, the poet Barbara Guest, wrote: ‘Would that today the excised poem with its corrections might rest in the Berg Collection in New York, alongside Pound’s similar selective corrections and deletions to The Waste Land of Eliot.’ Later, no one could actually agree ...

Hi, Louise!

Stephanie Burt: Frank O’Hara, 20 July 2000

In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art 
by Russell Ferguson.
California, 160 pp., £24.50, October 1999, 0 520 22243 1
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The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets 
by David Lehman.
Anchor, 448 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 0 385 49533 1
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Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 266 pp., £13.50, March 1998, 0 226 66059 1
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... his Harvard friends and their friends – among them the poets Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler and Barbara Guest – becoming part of a social circle that was soon dominated by painters. In 1951 and again from 1955 until his death, O’Hara worked at the Museum of Modern Art, where he became a curator of exhibitions and a well known figure in the New York ...

Two Velvet Peaches

Rosemary Ashton, 17 February 1983

... criticism. Strangely, though, the subject has brought mainly defences of her reticence, such as Barbara Hardy’s eloquent discussion of the ‘hints and implications’ of George Eliot’s handling of sexual relationships in The Appropriate Form (1964), the appropriate chapter of which is now reprinted in Particularities, or, in the George Eliot Centenary ...

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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... This, say Barbara Skelton’s publishers, is the ‘second – and some people will be relieved to hear, final – volume of her riotous autobiography’. On page one of volume one there is a quotation from Harriette Wilson about the meaning of the term ‘gentleman’ – a subject not really very close to Skelton’s heart ...

I do and I don’t

Barbara Wootton, 21 October 1982

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. I 1873-1892: Glitter Around and Darkness Within 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 386 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 86068 209 9
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... says, a general feeling of discomfort. Beatrice’s father, with marked discourtesy towards his guest, promptly retired to play patience, ‘utterly disgusted with the “supposed intentions” of that guest’. At dinner, ‘after some shyness’, Beatrice writes, ‘we plunged into essentials, and Chamberlain began ...

Making herself disagreeable

Barbara Wootton, 6 December 1984

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. III: ‘The Power to Alter Things’ 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 445 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 86068 211 0
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Beatrice and Sidney Webb: Fabian Socialists 
by Lisanne Radice.
Macmillan, 350 pp., £20, June 1984, 0 333 36183 0
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... no clear picture of the behind-the-scenes domestic arrangements. All I can say, as an occasional guest at these functions, is that the menus were impeccably conventional, and the food always good of its kind. On 17 February 1908, the Poor Law Commission published two reports both of which proposed a radical restructuring of the machinery for dealing with the ...

Talking about Shakespeare

Frank Kermode, 28 September 1989

Young Hamlet: Essays on Shakespeare’s Tragedies 
by Barbara Everett.
Oxford, 232 pp., £22.50, June 1989, 0 19 812993 9
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‘Timon of Athens’ 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Harvester, 164 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 7108 1006 7
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... Barbara Everett’s book consists of her four Northcliffe Lectures, given at University College London in 1988, on Hamlet and the other ‘major’ tragedies, together with a number of shorter pieces on Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, Twelfth Night, and quite a lot more about Hamlet. This account may make the book sound scrappy, but it holds together ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... to involve his heterosexual partners in aspects of the Game. With his first wife, the art student Barbara Sherlock, to whom he got engaged when he was a 19-year-old virgin and she was 21, it turned out to be almost impossible to do this satisfyingly. With his second wife, Penelope Shuttle, he still felt some shame over his need for the Game, though she was ...

Honeymoon

Barbara Wootton, 1 December 1983

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. II: All the Good Things in Life 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 376 pp., £18, October 1983, 0 86068 210 2
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... Bernard Shaw (in spite of his philandering, of which Beatrice strongly disapproved) was a regular guest at the famous Webb lunches. Manual workers were conspicuous by their absence. Possibly Beatrice never quite escaped from the conventional class feeling of the circles in which she grew up. Certainly the diary contains occasional expressions of dismay at the ...

Alphabeted

Barbara Everett: Coleridge the Modernist, 7 August 2003

Coleridge’s Notebooks: A Selection 
edited by Seamus Perry.
Oxford, 264 pp., £17.99, June 2002, 0 19 871201 4
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works I: Poems (Reading Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1608 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00483 8
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works II: Poems (Variorum Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1528 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00484 6
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works III: Plays 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1620 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 09883 2
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... easy to suspect, an oddly truncated memory of it. The poem begins as the Mariner stops the Wedding-Guest, is swiftly out at sea and into ‘the land of ice’, sees the shooting of the albatross and the becalming of the ship under a ‘hot and copper sky’, describes the arrival of the spectral ship and the death of the crew, and then continues as the Mariner ...

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