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Summer in Bucharest

Fleur Adcock, 16 August 1990

... We bought raspberries in the market; but raspberries are discredited: they sag in their bag, fermenting into a froth of suspect juice. And strawberries are seriously compromised: a taint – you must have heard the stories. As for red currants, well, they say the only real red currants are dead. (Don’t you believe it: the fields are full of them, swelling hopefully on their twigs, and the dead ones weren’t red anyway but some mutation of black or white ...

The Keepsake

Fleur Adcock, 6 September 1984

... In memory of Pete Laver ‘To Fleur from Pete, on loan perpetual.’ It’s written on the flyleaf of the book I wouldn’t let you give away outright: ‘Just make it permanent loan,’ I said – a joke between librarians, professional jargon. It seemed quite witty, on a night when most things passed for wit. We were all hoarse by then, from laughing at the bits you’d read aloud – the heaving bosoms, blushing sighs, demoniac lips ...

Central Time

Fleur Adcock, 4 September 1986

... The time is nearly one o’clock, or half-past twelve in Adelaide’ – where the accents aren’t quite so ... Australian as in the other states, the ones that were settled (not their fault, of course) by convicts. We had Systematic Colonisation, and Colonel Light, and the City of Adelaide Plan. We have the Park Lands. It’s time for the news at 1 ...

Two Poems

Fleur Adcock, 8 February 1990

... RomaniaSuddenly it’s gone public; it rushed outinto the light like a train out of a tunnel.People I’ve met are faces in the government,shouting on television, looking older.A man who came to see me once, for breakfastat my hotel, and was dazzlingly indiscreetabout the system – there, in front of the waiters –is Head of Broadcasting this week ...


Fleur Adcock, 7 April 1994

... Ovid, Metamorphoses, IX, 666-797) But that’s nothing to what happened in Crete. Once upon a time there was a man called Ligdus, from near Knossos – a nobody, but freeborn, honourable and decent. His wife was pregnant. When her time was close, this is what he told her: ‘I pray for two things: a painless labour for you, and a son. Girls are more trouble, and I can’t afford one ...

Imagining the Suburbs

Stan Smith, 9 January 1992

Common Knowledge 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 62 pp., £6, April 1991, 0 436 20037 6
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The Son of the Duke of Nowhere 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 57 pp., £4.99, April 1991, 0 571 16140 5
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Bridge Passages 
by George Szirtes.
Oxford, 63 pp., £5.99, March 1991, 0 19 282821 5
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Time Zones 
by Fleur Adcock.
Oxford, 54 pp., £5.99, March 1991, 0 19 282831 2
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Selected Poems 
by Fleur Adcock.
Oxford, 125 pp., £6.99, March 1991, 0 19 558100 8
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Spilt Milk 
by Sarah Maguire.
Secker, 50 pp., £6, April 1991, 0 436 27095 1
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The Sirocco Room 
by Jamie McKendrick.
Oxford, 56 pp., £5.99, March 1991, 0 19 282820 7
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by Gerard Woodward.
Chatto, 80 pp., £5.99, April 1991, 0 7011 3758 4
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... a minor Hindu deity. Of the poets here, Philip Gross and George Szirtes follow Conrad’s route. Fleur Adcock, re-importing a wicked Englishness from the Antipodes, favours Mrs Moore. The others work variations on Forster, with the occasional Conradian divertissement. The son of ‘a Displaced Person from Estonia’, the Gross child came to himself in ...

Three Poems

Michael Longley, 27 June 2002

... for you, a skunk spun out of glass And so small as to be almost unbreakable. Three Butterflies For Fleur Adcock Your sister in New Zealand held the telephone Above your mother in her open coffin For you to communicate. How many times Did silence encircle the globe before The peacock butterfly arrived in your room? We all know what the butterfly ...

On Michael Longley

Colin Burrow: Michael Longley, 19 October 2017

... he not so humorously unassuming, it might seem a wee bit in-groupy: the first poem is dedicated to Fleur Adcock; others are for Edna O’Brien; others modestly describe having his portrait painted. But there is a nice twinkle in Longley’s eye when he remembers ‘That time I shared a lobster with Heaney/(Boston? New York?) he took the bigger claw’ and ...


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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... more than 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 include are the ...

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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... Poetry: 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 ...


C.K. Stead, 7 May 1981

I passed this way 
by Sylvia Ashton-Warner.
Virago, 499 pp., £12, October 1980, 0 86068 160 2
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by Sylvia Ashton-Warner.
Virago, 269 pp., £2.95, October 1980, 0 86068 161 0
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by Sylvia Ashton-Warner.
Virago, 224 pp., £2.95, October 1980, 0 86068 162 9
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... reprints including a Penguin edition. In Spinster (reissued now with a rather prim introduction by Fleur Adcock) Ashton-Warner puts her spinster-teacher Anna Vorontosov in the same ‘pre-fab’ classroom with the same Maori pupils described in Teacher. Into the school comes a young teacher, Paul Vercoe, confused in his feelings and confusing to Anna, who ...

Bogey’s Clean Sweep

Michael Holroyd, 22 May 1980

The Life of Katherine Mansfield 
by Antony Alpers.
Cape, 466 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01625 3
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... substantial than its predecessor, yet there is a sense of something missing. An early review by Fleur Adcock in Quarto notes the book as having 512 pages though, in fact, it only reaches page 466. It is as if there had been extra pages full of excellent matter that Mr Alpers, feeling it to be too well-known, at the last moment obliterated. He is so ...


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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... Put simply, this anthology should be read for the 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 ...

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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... flowers’, seem as old-fashioned as Yeats’s eloquence about country houses by comparison with Fleur Adcock’s ‘The Soho Hospital for Women’: Doris hardly smokes in the ward – And hardly eats more than a dreamy spoonful – but the corridors and bathrooms reek of her Players Number 10, and the drugtrolley pauses for long minutes by her ...

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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... an ‘old-fashioned’ 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 ...

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