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Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... English translation) are the great Latinist George Buchanan and the Gaelic poet Alexander Mac-Donald. Duncan Ban MacIntyre’s expansive 18th-century Gaelic poem on deer (echoes of which can be heard in Crichton Smith and Les Murray) is juxtaposed with John Davidson’s ‘A Runnable Stag’. This should have been the ...

Kooked

Mark Ford, 10 March 1994

Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... and Gary Snyder on whom Cathay made such an impact, British poets as different from each other as Donald Davie and Jeremy Prynne, Objectivists like Oppen and Reznikoff, and of course the whole group of poets associated with Black Mountain College – Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and Charles ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert DuncanThe Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... As a boy, Robert Duncan had a recurring dream. He would imagine himself in the middle of a treeless field. The ripe grass rippled, though there was no wind, and the light, as he later remembered, ‘was everywhere’, though there was no sun to be seen. Seeing himself in the centre of a circle of children, all of them singing and playing ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’, Duncan understood that he was ‘it’: ‘the Chosen One … a “King” or victim of the children’s round dance ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... mostly distinguished and competent. That the names of William Hague at the age of 36 and Iain Duncan Smith at any age should now be added to that illustrious roll is bizarre. How did this Conservative descent into absurdity occur? During Major’s premiership by far the greatest cause of dissension in the governing party was Europe. After she had been ...

Picasso and Cubism

Gabriel Josipovici, 16 July 1981

Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective 
edited by William Rubin.
Thames and Hudson, 464 pp., £10.95, July 1980, 0 500 23310 1
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Picasso: His Life and Work 
by Roland Penrose.
Granada, 517 pp., £9.99, May 1981, 0 7139 1420 3
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Portrait of Picasso 
by Roland Penrose.
Thames and Hudson, 128 pp., £3.95, June 1981, 0 500 27226 3
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Viva Picasso: A Centennial Celebration, 1881-1981 
by Donald Duncan.
Allen Lane, 152 pp., £12.95, May 1981, 0 7139 1420 3
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Picasso: The Cubist Years, 1907-1916 
by Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet.
Thames and Hudson, 376 pp., £60, October 1979, 9780500091340
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Picasso’s Guernica: The Labyrinth of Vision 
by Frank Russell.
Thames and Hudson, 334 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 0 500 23298 9
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... secret of immortality did exist – and perhaps we could share in his godlike status. The blurb to Donald Douglas Duncan’s book of photographs – a selection from his previous books brought out, like Penrose’s slightly similar Portrait of Picasso, to coincide with the centenary – catches the tone exactly: ‘Through ...

The Most Eligible Bachelor on the Planet

Thomas Jones: ‘The President is Missing’, 5 July 2018

The President Is Missing 
by Bill Clinton and James Patterson.
Century, 513 pp., £20, June 2018, 978 1 78089 839 1
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... The president​ in question is Jonathan Lincoln Duncan. He’s a Gulf veteran and former prisoner of war, an Army Ranger who was tortured in Iraq but didn’t betray his comrades or his country. He’s also a former governor of North Carolina, the state he was born in and where he was brought up by his single mother ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov, 25 September 2014

Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... friendships with Creeley and Williams, as well as a long informal apprenticeship to Robert Duncan, led some to associate her with the Black Mountain school, an identification sealed by her inclusion under that heading in Donald Allen’s 1960 anthology The New American Poetry. The lone woman in a lupine ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Corbyn Surge, 27 August 2015

... When the Tories first moved to a one-member-one-vote system in 2001, they plumped for Iain Duncan Smith over Kenneth Clarke. The result was that Britain had a weak and ineffectual parliamentary opposition at the most hubristic phase of Tony Blair’s premiership, during the run-up to the Iraq War. The situation was only remedied two years later when ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien, 16 February 2017

... with its dreamlike logic and unpredictability, its mingling of disparate images. In 1960, Donald Allen’s anthology, The New American Poetry (Olson, Duncan, Creeley et al), hit him like a bolt of lightning. Up until then he had been under the sway of the 1957 anthology New Poets of England and America, full of ...

Take out all the adjectives

Jeremy Harding: The poetry of George Oppen, 6 May 2004

New Collected Poems 
by George Oppen, edited by Michael Davidson.
Carcanet, 433 pp., £14.95, July 2003, 1 85754 631 8
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... cultivate the young, and he fell in with a new generation of poets in the 1960s, including Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley, but he was not entirely at home with the spirit of the decade, or the radicalism of the New Left. His wonderful letters, in which he thinks on his fingers, clattering away with a freedom that poetry rarely gave him, spell out his ...

All There Needs to Be Said

August Kleinzahler: Louis Zukofsky, 22 May 2008

The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky 
by Mark Scroggins.
Shoemaker and Hoard, 555 pp., $30, December 2007, 978 1 59376 158 5
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... appropriation, protested vigorously, as did an older generation of advocates such as Robert Duncan, whose work was heavily influenced by Zukofsky and who resented what he felt was brazen opportunism and a fundamental misreading of the poetry. There was quite a noisy back and forth for a while – great fun really. Scroggins discusses all this in a ...

Empty Cookie Jar

Donald MacKenzie: Ethnoaccountancy, 22 May 2003

Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron 
by Robert Bryce.
PublicAffairs, 394 pp., £9.99, November 2002, 1 903985 54 4
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Enron: The Rise and Fall 
by Loren Fox.
Wiley, 384 pp., £18.50, October 2002, 0 471 23760 4
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... as apparently happened to the most sceptical Andersen partner, Carl Bass. In February 1999, David Duncan, the partner in charge of its dealings with Enron, told the latter’s audit committee that ‘Obviously, we are on board with all of these’ – Enron’s accountancy practices – ‘but many push limits and have a high “others could have a different ...

The Five Techniques

Sadakat Kadri: Who killed Baha Mousa?, 9 May 2013

A Very British Killing: The Death of Baha Mousa 
by A.T. Williams.
Cape, 298 pp., £16.99, October 2012, 978 0 224 09688 1
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... to answer at all. The only man who admitted being with Baha Mousa at the moment he died, Corporal Donald Payne, told investigators that the Iraqi fatally banged his head during an escape attempt, and was cleared of manslaughter. He went to jail for 12 months, but only because he had pleaded guilty before the trial to a charge of inhuman treatment. The effort ...

Flickering Star

Robert Crawford: Iain Crichton Smith, 21 January 1999

TheLeaf and the Marble 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 80 pp., £6.95, October 1998, 1 85754 400 5
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... where ‘My trousers grow used to the dung’, is not a Mandarin: What news from the frontier? Is Donald still Colonel? Are there more pupils than teachers in Scotland? I send you this by a small boy with a pointed head. Don’t trust him. He is a Campbell. Where earlier generations of Scottish readers had grown up with Crichton Smith’s more obviously ...

It makes yer head go

David Craig: James Kelman and Gordon Legge, 18 February 1999

The Good Times 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1998, 0 436 41215 2
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Near Neighbours 
by Gordon Legge.
Cape, 218 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05120 2
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... plonking away, or of looking at pictures painted by numbers with the broadest brush. On the cover Duncan McLean makes a strenuous effort to enlist Legge in the brother and sisterhood of the Scottish New Wave (Warner, Galloway, Welsh) by crediting him with the subtlety of Chekhov. Subtlety is the last thing McLean should have claimed for him. Legge tells his ...

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