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The Earth Rising

Clive Wilmer, 23 October 1986

... The men who first set foot on the bleached waste That is the moon saw rising near in space A planetary oasis that surpassed The homesick longings of their voyaging race: Emerald and ultramarine through a white haze Like a torn veil – as if no sand or dust Or stain of spilt blood or invading rust Corrupted it with reds, browns, yellows, greys. So visionaries have seen it: to design Transparent, luminous and, as if new-made, Cut from surrounding darkness ...

The Architect at His Mountain Villa

Clive Wilmer, 24 July 2003

... All I can do is take you to the edge And throw a belvedere Out on the void, fenced in with cabled steel, So there is nothing which you need to fear – As fear you will, Like somebody marooned on a rock ledge. This is what builders do: compose a space For you to live inside And be in body. They can give no more Than wood or concrete, stone or brick provide ...

After Pavese

Clive Wilmer, 16 April 1981

... The lone man hearkens to the calm voice, His expression ajar – as if the draught On his face were a breath, a friendly breath, Returning, beyond belief, from time gone by. The lone man hearkens to the ancient voice His fathers throughout the ages have heard, clear And composed, a voice that much like the green Of the pools and hills deepens at evening ...

Two Poems

Clive Wilmer, 5 June 1986

... Post-War Childhoods For Takeshi Kusafuka If there were no affliction in this world we might think we were in paradise. Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace You, born in Tokyo In nineteen forty-four, Knew the simplicity Occasioned by a war. In London it was so Even in victory – In defeat, how much more. Knew it I say – and yet, Born to it, you and I, How could we in truth have known? It was the world ...

On the Turn

Clive Wilmer, 22 June 2000

Collected Shorter Poems: 1966-96 
by John Peck.
Carcanet, 424 pp., £14.95, April 1999, 1 85754 161 8
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... Poets whose work has a kinship with that Ezra Pound are likely to be ignored. This is the case with the American poet John Peck, who, now in his late fifties, with a massive and challenging achievement behind him and the devotion of an active British publisher, is unknown not only to general readers but to those who think they know about modern poetry ...

An apple is an apple

August Kleinzahler: György Petri, 19 July 2001

Eternal Monday: New and Selected Poems 
by György Petri, translated by Clive Wilmer.
Bloodaxe, 96 pp., £7.95, June 1999, 1 85224 504 2
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... This poem, ‘Lovers’, is from an earlier selection of Petri’s poems chosen and translated by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri, Night Song of the Personal Shadow, as are these lines from ‘Marriage’: Your skirt is like a bag of candies, offering familiar sweetness. Do not resent him thinking he’s grasped what in fact he’s ...

Looking Up

Donald Davie, 15 July 1982

The Passages of Joy 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 93 pp., £4, June 1982, 0 571 11867 4
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The Occasions of Poetry 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 188 pp., £6.95, June 1982, 0 571 11733 3
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... great contemporaries, notably Marlowe and Donne. Gunn, I believe, liked this notion, and Clive Wilmer endorses it in his excellent and too brief Introduction to The Occasions of Poetry. It is disconcerting to have to acknowledge that in Gunn’s very fine collection of poems this dimension of his writing is no longer evident. In none of these 37 ...

Cambridge Theatre

Donald Davie, 19 August 1982

by Sue Lenier.
Oleander Press, 80 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 9780906672044
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Collected Poems 
by Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 351 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 10573 4
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by Clive Wilmer.
Carcanet, 63 pp., £3.25, June 1982, 0 85635 359 0
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... should be ashamed of themselves. From Cambridge, from under the feet of several of them, comes Clive Wilmer’s second collection, Devotions, artfully composed to be much more than the sum of its parts, tightly metrical verses first and last, framing a central section of short-lined free verse that owes much (and very properly) to the practice of Thom ...

Pound and the Perfect Lady

Donald Davie, 19 September 1985

Pound’s Artists: Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts in London, Paris and Italy 
by Richard Humphreys.
Tate Gallery, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 946590 28 1
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Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters 1909-1914 
edited by Omar Pound and A. Walton Litz.
Faber, 399 pp., £25, January 1985, 0 571 13480 7
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... Thanks to Clive Wilmer among others, an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, photographs and printed material bearing on Pound’s interests in ‘the visual arts’ was mounted for the Cambridge Poetry Festival on 14 June, and could be seen in Cambridge’s not sufficiently renowned Kettle’s Yard Gallery until 4 August; it will now be at the Tate from 11 September to 10 November ...


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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... into three main groups: the poet-critics (Blake Morrison, Craig Raine, James Fenton, Alan Jenkins, Clive Wilmer), the academics (Nicholas Jenkins, Terry Castle, Colin McGinn, Deborah Cameron, Deborah Bowman, William Pritchard, Eric Homberger, Michael O’Neill, Rachel Buxton) and the memoirists (Karl Miller, Anthony Thwaite, Robert Conquest), though ...

Thom Gunn in New York

Michael Nott, 22 October 2020

... their strict form, unsparing tone and plain style. ‘It came out in couplets,’ he told Clive Wilmer. ‘I’m not sure why … Once you do something that you’re pleased with, it’s not that you try to repeat it, but it points a way forward to other things.’That November, Gunn spent eight days in New York. Before setting off, he felt ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn on the Move, 13 September 2018

Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... that I’m amazed I was able to achieve,’ Gunn said.) ‘Considering the Snail’ – inspired, Clive Wilmer tells us, by Paul Klee’s painting from 1924 – begins: The snail pushes through a green night, for the grass is heavy with water and meets over the bright path he makes, where rain has darkened the earth’s dark. He moves in a wood of ...

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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... Nor, at the other end of the spectrum, will we find poets such as Peter Robinson, Robert Wells or Clive Wilmer, or the Carcanet poets from the days when PN Review was called Poetry Nation. Denise Riley, Roy Fisher and Christopher Middleton are about all we have by way of a British avant-garde, a term which is usually taken to indicate that the poets have ...

Introversion Has Its Limits

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Essayism’, 8 March 2018

by Brian Dillon.
Fitzcarraldo, 138 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 1 910695 41 8
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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found 
by Bella Bathurst.
Wellcome, 224 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78125 776 0
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Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts 
by Brian Blanchfield.
Picador, 181 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 5098 4785 3
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... an understanding of the real risk of collapse. It can also be an effective literary strategy. Clive Wilmer, writing about Thom Gunn’s poem on his mother’s death, identifies ‘the note of reticence needed for speech to occur at all’ as being what moves the reader. In his struggles with depression, Dillon seemed to find in books the antidote to ...

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