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Visiting the Ruminators

Carol Rumens, 17 September 1981

... They flop their big, blunt heads over the wire like dim children penned in hospital cots. Eyes roll, and a silvery iris-petal unfurls to lick the salt from my bare arm. Then each takes it in turn to show its backside in a long, lumbering furniture removal. Bored with my love, they lean to their emerald feast. They never tire of it. They are factories building themselves in many meat-hung chambers ...


Carol Rumens, 22 May 1986

... We broke slim boughs to stir and sift the leaf-mould. I was befogged by earth-colours, my earthbound sight an Axminster of swirling oak-leaves, beech-mast, till I had trimmed my focus to detail, even acquired a touch of your magical foresight. Seroyeshky, you called them: mushrooms for eating raw, but better cooked, you said, in spite of the nickname ...

The Carpet Sweeper

Carol Rumens, 19 February 1981

... To K. Lumley Mother, last week I met that old Ewbank we had when I was three or four, standing outside a junk-shop in Bridge Street. I was sure it was the one because it knew me straight away. At first we were both glad. We looked each other over. I think it felt the sharp impulse of my pity; it made no comment, however, and I was too polite to mention its homeless state ...

A Poem for Chessmen at a Congress

Carol Rumens, 18 June 1981

... Shah maat – the King is dead It’s like an examination – or some vast dinner party where the guests sit in pairs and politely demolish each other. Your ranks of hunted shoulders and frowns attest the passion of the quest. For you are unravelling a childhood, inching back. You cross the polite, hushed street – its pawn cars in a line, its mitred evergreens – and softly click the latches to the room where the grown-ups stand as if they’d guessed you’d visit with death in your childish hand ...


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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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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... challenges those critics who try to petrify literature into a fixed series of canonical texts. Carol Rumens hopes her anthology may point towards the time when we do not feel obliged ‘to think of writers in terms of gender at all’. Although I’ve never felt obliged to think of writers as anything other than writers, I suspect this view was too ...

Moving Pictures

Claude Rawson, 16 July 1981

English Subtitles 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 56 pp., £3.50, March 1981, 0 19 211942 7
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Unplayed Music 
by Carol Rumens.
Secker, 53 pp., £4.50, February 1981, 9780436439001
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Close Relatives 
by Vicki Feaver.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1981, 0 436 15185 5
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... months after this picture they were all dead’) lacks a whole dimension of personal suffering. Carol Rumens’s Unplayed Music also contains a photograph-poem, ‘Before these wars’. It is about her parents ‘in the early days of marriage’: I search their laughter in vain: no baby twinkles there, and Hitler has not yet marched on Poland. It is ...


Blake Morrison, 21 February 1991

The Chatto Book of Love Poetry 
edited by John Fuller.
Chatto, 374 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3453 4
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The Faber Book of Blue Verse 
edited by John Whitworth.
Faber, 305 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14095 5
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Self-Portrait with a Slide 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 62 pp., £5.95, June 1990, 0 19 282744 8
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The Virago Book of Love Poetry 
edited by Wendy Mulford.
Virago, 288 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 1 85381 030 4
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Erotica: An Anthology of Women’s Writing 
edited by Margaret Reynolds, foreword by Jeanette Winterson .
Pandora, 362 pp., £19.99, November 1990, 9780044406723
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Daddy, Daddy 
by Paul Durcan.
Blackstaff, 185 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 85640 446 2
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... they are to men’s: Wendy Mulford excludes most ‘establishment’ women poets. No Fleur Adcock, Carol Rumens, Carol Ann Duffy and certainly no Fiona Pitt-Kethley or Wendy Cope – which means denying herself, out of petty literary in-fighting, poems that would have strengthened her case. The best poems she does ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Douglas Dunn, Anne Stevenson, Craig Raine, James Fenton, Andrew Motion, Derek Mahon, Fleur Adcock, Carol Rumens, Medbh McGuckian, Penelope Shuttle and others. Geoffrey Hill, Dannie Abse, Denise Levertov, Peter Red-grove, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gillian Clarke, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Elaine Feinstein are all variously represented, opening out the ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... to launch the careers of arts journalists including Laura Cumming and Kate Kellaway, and the poet Carol Rumens. Members of staff at a particularly low financial ebb might be put up rent free in his flat. The Academy Club, which Attallah founded at Waugh’s request in the tiny basement of the Literary Review’s offices, was a place for more drinking and ...

We shall not be moved

John Bayley, 2 February 1984

Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... poet like Johnston has more in common with women poets writing today like Fleur Adcock, Carol Rumens and Ruth Fainlight. His verses, like theirs, have nothing against being simple, forceful and straightforward. Modern mannered poets show a latent anxiety about the poem not quite coming off which is quite absent in Ruth Fainlight. In a tradition ...

Social Arrangements

John Bayley, 30 December 1982

The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry 
edited by Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 208 pp., £1.95, October 1982, 0 14 042283 8
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The Rattle Bag 
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.
Faber, 498 pp., £10, October 1982, 0 571 11966 2
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... with almost all the contributors with good poems included here – Hugo Williams, Anne Stevenson, Carol Rumens, Andrew Motion. The exceptions, who compose naturally in a more spacious sequence, are James Fenton and of course Seamus Heaney himself. Heaney, in collaboration with Ted Hughes, has produced a most agreeable anthology, along the same lines as ...

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