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Long Goodbye

Derek Mahon, 20 November 1980

Why Brownlee left 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 48 pp., £3, September 1980, 0 571 11592 6
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Poems 1956-1973 
by Thomas Kinsella.
Dolmen, 192 pp., £7.50, September 1980, 0 85105 365 3
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Constantly Singing 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 90 pp., £3.95, June 1980, 0 85640 217 6
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A Part of Speech 
by Joseph Brodsky.
Oxford, 151 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 19 211939 7
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Collected poems 1931-1974 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 350 pp., £9, September 1980, 0 571 18009 4
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... and it is perfectly possible to do so – one can hardly question their integrity. The title of James Simmons’s new collection is taken from Juno and the paycock, where Juno, giving off about her husband’s waywardness, remarks: ‘And constantly singing, no less, when he ought to be always on his knees offering up a novena for a ...

Anglo-Irish Occasions

Seamus Heaney, 5 May 1988

... as part of a series that included Seamus Deane, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, Stewart Parker, James Simmons, and several other Northern Irish poets whose voices were beginning to raise themselves in the mid-Sixties. To hear John Carey now, almost a quarter of a century later, go farther still along that road of praise is consequently all the more ...

Diary

Michael Dibdin: Ulster Questions, 21 April 1988

... display combining maximum publicity with the minimum risk to themselves. The Ulster poet James Simmons has captured this. Familiar things you might brush against or tread upon in the daily round were glistening red with the slaughter the hero caused, though he had gone. By proxy his bomb exploded, his valour shone. That mythic scale, those ...

Ten Poets

Denis Donoghue, 7 November 1985

Selected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 124 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 9780856355950
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Collected Poems: 1947-1980 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 837 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 670 80683 8
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Instant Chronicles: A Life 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 58 pp., £4.50, April 1985, 9780019211970
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Selected Poems 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 596 8
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Selected Poems 
by Jeffrey Wainwright.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 598 4
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Selected Poems 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 112 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 594 1
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The Price of Stone 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, May 1985, 0 571 13568 4
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Selected Poems 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 121 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 597 6
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Selected Poems 
by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 585 2
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From the Irish 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 78 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 331 8
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... from the heart. Not that I believe her: she learned much white magic, that included. Much of James Simmons’s From the Irish is accomplished doggerel: it seems to ask to be set to music for The Dubliners or The Wolfe Tones and sung in a pub in Howth. His persona is that of the honest Ulsterman, ‘The Poet’s Breastplate’ something to be ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren, 5 November 1981

Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... Alexander Cohen, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Sir John Gielgud, Hugh Griffiths, Joseph Losey, James Mason, Vincente Minnelli, Mike Nichols, Rachel Roberts, Daphne Rye, Jean Simmons, and three of his wives, Sybil Christopher, Elizabeth Taylor and Susan Hunt. I particularly enjoyed the parenthesis Mr Ferris appended to ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... for ‘swashbuckling’ entrepreneurs, especially ones with Northern accents. When she first met JamesHanson, his gentle Yorkshire lilt fascinated her almost as much as his millions. She assumed, as Harold Wilson had several years previously, that Hanson was typical of the self-made man, the hard-working puritan who started at the bottom and ...

Past Its Peak

Robert Vitalis: The Oil Curse, 17 December 2009

Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil 
by Peter Maass.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £20, October 2009, 978 1 84614 246 8
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... In 1905 a British journalist called James Dodds Henry travelled to Baku, an enclave on the southern frontier of the Russian Empire that had recently become the centre of the world oil industry. ‘If oil is king, Baku is its throne,’ he wrote in Baku: An Eventful History. But the Russian industry was even then beginning a precipitous decline following a series of crippling strikes in the oilfields led by a young Joseph Stalin, and rebellion was spreading across the Caucasus ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... the modern age, via Yeats, Synge, Francis Ledwidge, Padraig Colum and one or two others: no Joyce, James Stephens, Joseph Campbell, F.R. Higgins, Donagh MacDonagh or W.R. Rodgers. It’s hard not to feel that John Montague’s Faber Book of Irish Verse of 1974 offers a rather more satisfactory selection from the middle part of this century. Kinsella is at ...

Neutered Valentines

David Bromwich: James Agee, 7 September 2006

‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, ‘A Death in the Family’, Shorter Fiction 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 818 pp., $35, October 2005, 1 931082 81 2
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Film Writing and Selected Journalism 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 748 pp., $40, October 2005, 1 931082 82 0
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Brooklyn Is 
by James Agee.
Fordham, 64 pp., $16.95, October 2005, 0 8232 2492 9
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... without limit, and, lacking the certainty of a completed thing, will never entirely disappoint. James Agee had a fortunate career on the face of it, as a New York freelance for almost two decades and then as a screenwriter. One of the large talents of American writing in the 1940s, Agee was a Southerner, from Knoxville, Tennessee, who came North, stayed and ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... of the judiciary. On the occasion of his retirement as Recorder of London in July 1990, Sir James Miskin gave a television interview to the BBC. ‘That was a mad decision, was it not?’ he said of the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the Guildford case. ‘They didn’t give any thought to the fact that three years after it had happened there was a ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... in Picture Post (and probably at the barber’s) about The Way to the Stars with the young Jean Simmons, and the making of Michael Powell’s A Canterbury Tale, and the first Royal Command Performance, another Powell film, A Matter of Life and Death. Suburban cinemas were often pretty comfortless places. While the entrance could be quite imposing, with the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1996, 2 January 1997

... children’s cartoons. Telephoned by the same company last week I agree to do another in a Posy Simmons animated film about a pig who acts a theatrical dresser; this seems right up my street. Except I am called today to say that, unaware of my interest, the casting director has approached someone else and ‘his agent is standing firm.’ Clearly Stephen ...

Blood for Oil?

Retort: The takeover of Iraq, 21 April 2005

... time in government. In December 2003 the administration trotted out the Bush family consigliere, James Baker, the consummate oilman, as special presidential envoy to restructure Iraq’s $130 billion debt. Baker’s law firm represents Halliburton; Baker Hughes, his oil-services company, was promised the contract to restore second-tier oilfields in Iraq. He ...

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