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This Condensery

August Kleinzahler: In Praise of Lorine Niedecker

5 June 2003
Collected Works 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
California, 471 pp., £29.95, May 2002, 0 520 22433 7
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Collected Studies in the Use of English 
by Kenneth Cox.
Agenda, 270 pp., £12, September 2001, 9780902400696
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New Goose 
by Lorine Niedecker, edited by Jenny Penberthy.
Listening Chamber, 98 pp., $10, January 2002, 0 9639321 6 0
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... when eyes went a bit bad hospital floor washer, dining room helper etc … Retired now at 63. As with Lorine Niedecker’s poetry, much has been left out, but these few words written to the critic KennethCox in 1966 provide us with the biographical gist. This Collected Works should succeed, at long last, in establishing Niedecker as one of the most important and original poets of this past century ...

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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... spare and challenging. It’s hard to determine what any given poem is about, however; Zukofsky’s work is resistant to that sort of reading, and he held that the meaning was embedded in the sound. Kenneth Rexroth, reviewing Some Time in 1956, wrote that the poems were ‘exercises in absolute clarification, crystal cabinets full of air and angels’. Here, in the first half of a poem for the two-year ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner

26 September 2019
Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... when I visited Basil Bunting at his house near Newcastle in 1978. Bunting knew Kenner and admired his writings on poetry: he was one of only two critics Bunting thought any use, the other being KennethCox. Bunting thought I should be in touch with Kenner. ‘But bear in mind, August, he’s an antisemite and quite deaf, but not so deaf now with his second wife as he was with his first.’ I never ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran

25 January 1990
Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... Hill’s varyingly suspect appropriations of a passage from Czeslaw Milosz in which Davie defines the ‘distracting sonorities’ of Hill’s prose; in a generously empathetic essay on the critic KennethCox, Davie clearly relishes Cox on Hill’s ‘movement slowed to a processional drag ... all inanimate, embalmed ... like being beaten about the head with balloons’; a by no means uncritical ...

Nationalising English

Patrick Parrinder

28 January 1993
The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education 
by Brian Cox.
Chapmans, 386 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 1 85592 605 9
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... group of right-wing advisers who believe that, by overturning the present English order, they are storming one of the last bastions of progressive education. So runs the latest episode in what Brian Cox terms ‘the great betrayal’: the betrayal of teachers and their pupils over the last thirty years by government interference, false ideologies and starvation of resources. The current cast of this ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen

6 April 1995
Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... she did it! And what a beautiful, moving and dignified text it is. The audience listened in a rapt silence and at the end I had tears in my eyes.’ Among the Bloomsbury ‘items’ commissioned by Kenneth and Jane Clark was a grand Wedgwood dinner service created by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1935. The two artists chose to paint the 48 plates (out of 140 pieces) with a series of portraits of ...

Blackfell’s Scarlatti

August Kleinzahler: Basil Bunting

21 January 1999
The Poet as Spy: The Life and Wild Times of Basil Bunting 
by Keith Alldritt.
Aurum, 221 pp., £19.95, October 1998, 1 85410 477 2
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... various essayists, interviewers and bibliographers. He liked to say that there was no excuse for literary criticism after Dante’s De Vulgari Eloquentia. The contemporary critic he most admired was KennethCox, who wrote two of the finest essays on Bunting. Remarkably, there has never been a collection of Cox’s essays published. Donald Davie addressed the neglect of both the poet and essayist in his ...

Snarly Glitters

August Kleinzahler: Roy Fisher

20 April 2006
The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 
by Roy Fisher.
Bloodaxe, 400 pp., £12, June 2005, 1 85224 701 0
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... thing, so tender, for him to contain. He looked more comic and complaisant than the couple had done, and more likely to fall heavily to the floor. The prose alternates with verse. As the late KennethCox said in one of the very few useful pieces on Fisher’s poetry, the verse line slows down the rate of reading and highlights details of movement and texture, as well as allowing a more flexible ...

Lost Jokes

Alan Bennett

2 August 1984
... and casting the main role proved a problem. The script was turned down by half a dozen leading actors and I had begun to think there was something wrong with the play (there was: too long) when Kenneth More’s name came up. Kenneth More was, to say the least, not an obvious choice. As an actor and a man he had a very conservative image and to many of my generation he was identified with one of his ...


John Sutherland

21 January 1982
Brave Old World 
by Philippe Curval, translated by Steve Cox.
Allison and Busby, 262 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85031 407 0
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The Insider 
by Christopher Evans.
Faber, 215 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 571 11774 0
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by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 185 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85031 410 0
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From the Heat of the Day 
by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 159 pp., £6.50, October 1979, 0 85031 325 2
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One Generation 
by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 202 pp., £2.50, March 1981, 9780850312546
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by Nuruddin Farah.
Allison and Busby, 250 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 85031 408 9
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... to see further than a few yards above his head where most of the army of animals lived, and even farther above where the eagles soared.’ A main problem for the West Indian novelist, according to Kenneth Ramchand, is how to handle the ‘language of the master’ – the white predecessor who stands ambivalently as former slave-owner and literary source. Heath’s method is to thin his style to a ...
19 July 1984
... two are nominated by Lonrho, two by the Observer’s staff, and these four choose a fifth. The two nominated by Lonrho – on the advice of Lord Shawcross (of whom more later) – are Geoffrey Cox, a former editor and chief executive of Independent Television News, and Dame Rosemary Murray, a former Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University and a director of the Midland Bank. The two nominated ...

Blood for Oil?

Retort: The takeover of Iraq

21 April 2005
... cooked up bogus elections, installed a pliant constituent assembly and a freshly minted monarch, then successfully rigged a plebiscite with the assistance of the new high commissioner, Sir Percy Cox. In 1925, with a little help from the League of Nations, Britain struck a deal with the French to ensure that the oil-rich Mosul Province – ‘Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace’ – was formally ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett

24 June 1993
... notes? What would the officers say in their own defence? The right to silence is a cornerstone of the British legal system. At least that is one point of view. Another – shared by the police, by Kenneth Clarke and by Sir Hugh Annesley, the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland – is that it is outmoded and favours the guilty, and should be scrapped because it is routinely exploited by clever ...

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