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Dialect does it

Blake Morrison, 5 December 1985

No Mate for the Magpie 
by Frances Molloy.
Virago, 170 pp., £7.95, April 1985, 0 86068 594 2
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The Mysteries 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 229 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 9780571137893
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Ukulele Music 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 103 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 40986 0
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Hard Lines 2 
edited by Ian Dury, Pete Townshend, Alan Bleasdale and Fanny Dubes.
Faber, 95 pp., £2.50, June 1985, 0 571 13542 0
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No Holds Barred: The Raving Beauties choose new poems by women 
edited by Anna Carteret, Fanny Viner and Sue Jones-Davies.
Women’s Press, 130 pp., £2.95, June 1985, 0 7043 3963 3
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Katerina Brac 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 47 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13614 1
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Skevington’s Daughter 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 88 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13697 4
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Rhondda Tenpenn’orth 
by Oliver Reynolds.
10 pence
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Trio 4 
by Andrew Elliott, Leon McAuley and Ciaran O’Driscoll.
Blackstaff, 69 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 333 4
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Mama Dot 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, August 1985, 0 7011 2957 3
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The Dread Affair: Collected Poems 
by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Arena, 112 pp., £2.95, August 1985, 9780099392507
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Long Road to Nowhere 
by Amryl Johnson.
Virago, 64 pp., £2.95, July 1985, 0 86068 687 6
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Mangoes and Bullets 
by John Agard.
Pluto, 64 pp., £3.50, August 1985, 0 7453 0028 6
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Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars 
by Ron Butlin.
Secker, 51 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 07810 4
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True Confessions and New Clichés 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 135 pp., £3.95, July 1985, 0 904919 90 0
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Works in the Inglis Tongue 
by Peter Davidson.
Three Tygers Press, 17 pp., £2.50, June 1985
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Wild Places: Poems in Three Leids 
by William Neill.
Luath, 200 pp., £5, September 1985, 0 946487 11 1
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... Poetry written in dialect seems to be undergoing a resurgence. Tony Harrison has made extensive use of Northern idioms. Tom Paulin has been busy raiding Ulster (and, I suspect, Scottish) dictionaries. Craig Raine has produced a manifesto, ‘Babylonish Dialects’, on dialect’s behalf. And several of the books under review here – by Scots, Welshmen and British West Indians – cannot be read without the glossaries which they thoughtfully provide ...

Criollismo

Benedict Anderson, 21 January 1988

Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800 
edited by Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden.
Princeton, 290 pp., £22, September 1987, 0 691 05372 3
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... of Louis XIV’s Paris made endless risible plans for the ‘French’ community in the St Lawrence estuary. But it is unlikely that any or all of this would have worked without an idea of synchronicity to which the authors of this volume make only glancing reference. Here we may recall, not only the existence of a long-established world-chronometry ...

Finishing Touches

Susannah Clapp, 20 December 1984

Charlotte Mew and her Friends 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 240 pp., £12.95, July 1984, 0 00 217008 6
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The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield. Vol. I: 1903-17 
edited by Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott.
Oxford, 376 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 19 812613 1
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... Mrs Fitzgerald described the adolescent Mew’s attachment to her Gower Street headmistress, Lucy Harrison, who had cropped hair, a passion for the work of Alice Meynell and Emily Brontë, and who eventually eloped with another schoolmistress to Yorkshire. Charlotte Mew copied the crop and thrilled to the readings of Alice Meynell’s ‘To a Daisy’. When ...

Nothing Terrible Happened

Sophie Harrison: Nadine Gordimer, 14 January 2002

The Pickup 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 270 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 7475 5427 7
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... sexuality – in fact there’s a line in None to Accompany Me that could have come straight from Lawrence (substitute ‘loins’ for ‘thighs’): he still had beautiful, strong legs, the ankles and knees perfectly articulated, the thighs – so important if a man is to be a good lover – frontally curved with muscle under smooth black hair. None to ...

The road is still open

David Wootton: Turpin Hero?, 3 February 2005

Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 258 pp., £8.99, January 2005, 1 86197 418 3
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... Turpin belonged to a gang of poachers in Essex. When they robbed a 70-year-old farmer, Joseph Lawrence, in 1735, they beat him on the bare buttocks, poured boiling water over him, and sat him on the fire in order to force him to say where his money was kept. Turpin played an active part in torturing Lawrence, though not ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... home? Answering the pulls and torsions of that question produces much of the verse of Heaney, Harrison and Dunn, but it also produces very different kinds of poetry. Martianism had nothing to do with Mars, everything to do with home, the place where Craig Raine (like Murray or Dunn) feels richest. Surely Martianism comes from the ‘Ithaca’ section of ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... anticipated by a decade or so the Ginsberg party trick that shocked John Lennon and George Harrison at the dawn of Swinging London. When I interviewed one of the Six Gallery poets, Michael McClure, in 2011, he recalled earlier episodes of Dionysian frenzy with Gerd Stern and a thrash of ‘belly dancers and bongo drums’. Nights that were much closer ...

Plastigoop

Stephanie Burt: Lucia Perillo, 17 November 2016

Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones: Selected and New Poems 
by Lucia Perillo.
Copper Canyon, 239 pp., $23, February 2016, 978 1 55659 473 1
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... Such portraits undercut the serious, ‘natural’ masculinity in poets like Ted Hughes and D.H. Lawrence, who may seem like soft targets now. Yet the same poems pursue more difficult truths about bodies in general: we, like our cows, are made of calcium and hormones, gums and bones, even as we are made of hope and anomie, which dissolve before our bones and ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves, 11 October 2018

Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... Meanwhile he was supposed to be studying English literature at Oxford, where he befriended T.E. Lawrence, whose wartime adventures Graves was to relate in a rather Boy’s-Own style in Lawrence and the Arabs (1927). In the early 1920s he and Lawrence planned their very own Boy’s Own ...

Sex’n’Love

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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... Christopher Reid and Michael Hofmann are classified as love poets but Craig Raine and Tony Harrison as blue versifiers. Only a few poets make both, including Seamus Heaney, who has two poems unworthy of him in the Whitworth (one about unfreezing a vaginal pump, one about a bride-like, much played-on Victorian guitar), and a couple of much better ones ...

Yeats and the Occult

Seamus Deane, 18 October 1984

The Mystery Religion of W.B. Yeats 
by Graham Hough.
Harvester, 129 pp., £15.95, May 1984, 0 7108 0603 5
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Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry 
by Cairns Craig.
Croom Helm, 323 pp., £14.95, January 1982, 9780856649974
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Yeats. Poems 1919-1935: A Selection of Critical Essays 
edited by Elizabeth Cullingford.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £14, July 1984, 0 333 27422 9
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The Poet and his Audience 
by Ian Jack.
Cambridge, 198 pp., £20, July 1984, 0 521 26034 5
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A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 543 pp., £35, May 1984, 0 333 35214 9
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Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £17, August 1984, 0 333 36213 6
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... is less clearly focused. But it is an engrossing one. He sets out, in the footsteps of John Harrison, Harvey Gross, William Chace and others, to explain and explore the connections between Modernist literature, as practised by Pound, Eliot and Yeats, and reactionary politics. Others – Lawrence and Wyndham Lewis ...

Eminent Athenians

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 1 October 1981

The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain 
by Frank Turner.
Yale, 461 pp., £18.90, April 1981, 0 300 02480 0
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... of the Mycenaean world. In dealing with the Cambridge anthropologists, he observes that Jane Harrison tended to depreciate Olympian religion in comparison with the ‘primitive’ kinds of worship to which she and her colleagues called attention, but that Gilbert Murray defended it, seeing it as representing a further stage in the advance towards ...

Offered to the Gods

Frank Kermode: Sacrifice, 5 June 2008

Culture and Sacrifice: Ritual Death in Literature and Opera 
by Derek Hughes.
Cambridge, 313 pp., £45, October 2007, 978 0 521 86733 7
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... turns up again in his proper historical situation (along with Nietzsche, Marcel Mauss, Jane Harrison, Jessie Weston, Freud – Totem and Taboo – and Dracula), he is judged with more disinterest. Less important than Mauss’s work, less profound than Walter Burkert’s Homo Necans, carrying too much encyclopedic luggage, enjoying too much success as a ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... voice as well as a writer. A guest list for a Features party planned in 1951 included Henry Reed, Lawrence Durrell. Christopher Fry, C. Day Lewis, Lennox Berkeley, Michael Tippett, William Walton, Laurie Lee and Stevie Smith. Until the early Fifties the BBC appeared to get a good return from its policy of patronising highbrow talent. From the inauguration of ...

Ecclefechan and the Stars

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... the St Andrews Classicist John Burnet (whose work on early Greek philosophy made an impact on Lawrence, Eliot, Pound and others); John Anderson, a Glasgow philosophy graduate of 1917 who emigrated to take up a Chair at Sydney University in 1927 and whose writings (fuelled, Davie argues, by the Scottish educational debate) are attracting increasing ...

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