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Two Poems

Gavin Ewart, 17 March 1988

... Byron’s Problem When they come up to you, as you’re sitting quietly, and lay their fat boobs on your knees, and look into your eyes with their own big eyes and wistfully caress your cheek and so, without speaking, say ‘Please!’ it’s a clear invitation to come out and play and you can’t just tell them to go away! When the wine’s round and they press up against you gently, it’s much like a musicless waltz as they talk about books (and they all write books) – that’s foreplay, nothing else, my son, true sex; it’s the talking that’s false! But you can’t make a snarky and sharpish riposte, with words like ‘Forget it!’, ‘Get lost!’ When they stroke your hair too, and finger your coat slyly, or lay a neat hand on your shirt, they all cast you as Faust (and they all know Faust), each one’s a Gretchen, maiden, pure; but they all want your hand up their skirt ...

Cat Poems

Gavin Ewart, 25 October 1990

... Catwoman Tattooed Thief Prowls Streets In Tony Neighbourhoods, Eludes Police for Years. American news item. All words in italics are quoted from this. James, the yardman, was working out back,   Maude, the maid, was tossing a salad – what better beginning, if you’re having a crack   at writing a criminal ballad? And I do want to make it plain: Atlanta’s notorious Catwoman had struck again ...

Sevens for Gavin Ewart (1916-1995)

Alan Brownjohn, 4 January 1996

... in the doorway In cloak and hat as if he was some part    Of the performance. Our memories, Gavin, Will retain your own appearances at parties,    Standing, as you preferred, in some quieter corner – Forever Ewart’s! The last time we talked at one,    It was prosody, New Verse, and the Café Royal We ...

Poetry and Soda

Barbara Everett, 5 February 1981

The Penguin Book of Unrespectable Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Penguin, 335 pp., £1.75, November 1980, 0 14 042142 4
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The Penguin Book of Light Verse 
edited by Gavin Ewart.
Penguin, 639 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 14 042270 6
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... other good poems he likes that could truthfully be said to do more than mention localities. Gavin Ewart is a very good and very readable writer of verse which, if not ‘light’, is not heavy either. If, therefore, his Penguin Book of Light Verse is less wholly pleasurable, even less admirable, than Geoffrey Grigson’s now nearly ten-years-old ...

First words, last chances

D.J. Enright, 13 May 1993

... dropped a taipan (Oh what a kakemono!)    On her tatami.    The term congeries Given by Gavin Ewart –    Jellied eels I’d thought.    Zoomancy (four Syllables please note) as when    Cats augur earthquakes.    Kin to yin and yang Lingam and yoni are less    Metaphysical.    Odalisques, frillies Frou-frous – and ...

Inside Out

John Bayley, 4 September 1980

The Collected Ewart 1933-1980 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 412 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 09 141000 2
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Selected Poems and Prose 
by Michael Roberts, edited by Frederick Grubb.
Carcanet, 205 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 85635 263 2
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... Towards the end of Gavin Ewart’s delightful and comfortable volume there is a poem called ‘It’s hard to dislike Ewart’. Too true, as Clive James or Peter Porter might say, possibly with a certain wry exasperation. Generally speaking, our fondness and admiration for poets does go with a potential of patronage or dislike, a pleasure in our sense of the absurdities and vulnerabilities of their worlds – Keats blushing to the ears as he writes raptly about womens’ waists; Eliot going on about his delicate apprehension of time and God, not hoping to turn again, and so forth ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison, 16 September 1982

The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New EwartPoems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... to a poet seeking approval in Britain as to come from a sunny clime, and George MacBeth’s and Gavin Ewart’s books are likely to have to answer to the charge that they lack a vision of evil. Poems from Oby would have us believe that the poet has finally, at 50, come into his own, thanks in part to his acquisition of a rectory and two and a half ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode, 6 June 1985

The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... Fitgerald – not, however, to be found in the body of the book. Why Ian Fleming and not, say, Gavin Ewart? Why Alfred Noyes and not Olivia Manning? Why not both A.S. Byatt and Margaret Drabble? Doubtless for all sorts of reasons. Why Tannhäuser and not Parsifal? Why summarise The Shaving of Shagpat and not Living or Loving? However, a measure of ...

Phil the Lark

Ian Hamilton, 13 October 1988

Collected Poems 
by Philip Larkin, edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber/Marvell Press, 330 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 571 15196 5
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... in 1977, Larkin published only four poems – two rather charming birthday poems (one for Gavin Ewart, the other for Charles Causley), a poem about a dead hedgehog, and a couple of stanzas specially written for a Poetry Review special number on poetry and drink. After his death in 1985, a handful of unpublished poems was found. The strongest of ...
The Alternative: Politics for a Change 
edited by Ben Pimlott, Anthony Wright and Tony Flower.
W.H. Allen, 260 pp., £14.95, July 1990, 9781852271688
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... swoops down, with her terrible ‘caring’ voice, on the stricken village or town ... This is Gavin Ewart, who adds: If you’re accident-prones you may hear those dread tones and meet that baleful eye! There are also substantial essays on our political culture, on economic and social policy, on defence and foreign affairs. Collectively, what they ...


Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... Kipling libretto, Baa Baa Black Sheep, for Michael Berkeley. Blake Morrison is, with the composer Gavin Bryars, engaged on an operatic version of Jules Verne’s story, ‘Dr Ox’s Experiment’. Gavin Ewart has provided saucy verses for Robin Holloway’s opera buffa about sexuality, Boys and Girls Come out to ...

The Best of Betjeman

John Bayley, 18 December 1980

John Betjeman’s Collected Poems 
compiled by the Earl of Birkenhead.
Murray, 427 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3632 4
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Church Poems 
by John Betjeman.
Murray, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 7195 3797 5
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... No doubt the modish thing today would be to give Betjeman the same label that has been stuck on Gavin Ewart: ‘a deeply serious poet’. That is the mechanical accolade, the last infirmity of contemporary clichés. Its irrelevance consists in the fact that no good poetry can be other than serious, whereas poetry written to be serious today is seldom ...

Blistering Attacks

Claude Rawson, 6 November 1980

The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Oxford, 454 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 19 214110 4
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... balladry by Macaulay and Thackeray and Belloc, and altogether too much Phyllis McGinley. MacNeice, Gavin Ewart and Enright are woefully underrepresented, and the omission of anything by Mr Grigson himself is a real loss, though ‘milder levity’ may not be his most salient feature. The refusal to ‘define’ satire, welcome enough in its way, does not ...
The ‘Private Eye’ Story: The First 21 Years 
by Patrick Marnham.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 233 97509 8
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One for the Road: Further Letters of Denis Thatcher 
by Richard Ingrams and John Wells.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 9780233975115
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Sir James Goldsmith: The Man and the Myth 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fontana, 222 pp., £1.95, April 1982, 0 00 636503 5
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... the first rules is never to offer anything for free. In the New Statesman’s Weekend Competition Gavin Ewart once mistakenly implied that the actor Roland Culver was dead. Mr Culver – whose name had only come up in the first place because it rhymed with ‘vulva’ – threatened to sue for potential loss of earnings. Page refused to let the Weekend ...
Selected Poems 1964-1983 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 262 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14619 8
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Terry Street 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, November 1986, 0 571 09713 8
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Selected Poems 1968-1983 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 109 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 571 14603 1
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Essential Reading 
by Peter Reading and Alan Jenkins.
Secker, 230 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 436 40988 7
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by Peter Reading.
Secker, 40 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 436 40989 5
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... I plan/100 100-word units’) are necessary to cope with the disintegrating subject-matter. (Gavin Ewart recently published an amusing parody, ‘The Peter Reading Poem’, which consists of a few expletives tacked together with metrical blanks.) It is as if a brain surgeon were to turn vivisectionist and perform a delicate operation on a patient ...

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