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Two Poems

Michael McClure, 24 May 2012

... Mephisto 5I AM A GOD WITH A HUGE FACE. Lionsand eagles pour out of my mouth. Big whitesquare teeth and a red-purple tongue. There aremagenta clouds around my head and thisis my throne room where Ichange opals into soulsin a spark of alchemy.    Only a fool is impartialto cool mist on the face on a brisk walk through the canyon. – Sometimes passedin semi-darkness by a bikerora car  delivering the papers ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 17 November 1983

... on my mind. On the radio, the National Front put their case in five minutes. The fiction of an all-white Albion, deludedness and control, like my landlady’s white-haired old bitch, who confuses home with the world, pees just inside the door, and shits trivially in a bend in the corridor. Mr Thatcher made his pile by ...

Two Poems

Michael Hofmann, 6 July 1989

... throat, singing. A thin trickle of demonstrators chant ‘Mexico!’ uphill. Whitewashed against white ants, the yew tree trunks look spindly and phosphorescent, like stalagmites in the cavern of their shade. The birds won’t sing. An old man clutches a fistful of drumsticks and shivers. A month after the election, the posters are still up, each x-ing out ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘12 Years a Slave’, 6 February 2014

12 Years a Slave 
directed by Steve McQueen.
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... and plausibly interpreted for us. ‘The inanimate body of poor Robert was consigned to the white waters of the gulf … and I gazed out over the great waste of waters with a spirit that was indeed disconsolate.’ In the film we see the wake of the ship, the sack with the body floating in the gleaming water, but it doesn’t translate into an ...


Sean Wilsey: Going Slow, 17 July 2008

... In the fall of 2002, in the company of a dog named Charlie Chaplin and an architect named Michael Meredith, I set out to drive a 1960 Chevy Apache 10 pick-up truck, at 45 mph, from far west Texas to New York City: 2364 miles through desert, suburbs, forests, lake-spattered plains, mountains, farmland, more suburbs and the Holland Tunnel ...

Five Poems

Günter Eich, translated by Michael Hofmann, 25 March 2010

... our chairs. Examine your fingertips! If they are black, it is already too late. End of August The white bellies of dead fish loom among duckweed and rushes. Crows have wings to enable them to escape death. There are times I know that God is most concerned with the fate of snails. He builds them houses. We are not His favourites. At night, the bus taking the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Behind the Candelabra’, 4 July 2013

Behind the Candelabra 
directed by Steven Soderbergh.
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... died in 1987. In the movie the performances keep pace with the glitter and the hokum for a while. Michael Douglas as Liberace acts up onstage and off, twinkles with a coy kindness that is all self-admiration but quite fetching even so; Damon is bewildered and wary and captivated in just the right proportions, and his shift from baffled gay guy into trinketed ...

Damaged Beasts

James Wood: Peter Carey’s ‘Theft’, 8 June 2006

Theft: A Love Story 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 269 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 0 571 23147 0
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... by the market, still a fake? What does intention matter if your audience doesn’t care about it? Michael ‘Butcher’ Boone, one of the two narrators of Theft, is a once famous Australian artist, newly divorced and down on his luck. His work is now very unfashionable, and he has retreated to a rustic house in New South Wales owned by his patron. Here, ...


Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party, 8 February 2018

... to understand for himself – and so do the journalists who write about him. Or most of them. Michael Wolff never planned to write a book about the president just as Trump never planned to become president. Wolff remained uncertain about his book’s prospects in the days leading to its publication in mid-January, though things began to look up when he ...

Stories of Black and White

Michael Wood, 4 October 1984

In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 138 pp., £7.50, September 1984, 0 7043 2852 6
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Nights at the Circus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 295 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 3932 3
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by Joan Didion.
Chatto, 234 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 7011 2890 9
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... in their titles. A father beats and then mutilates his daughter because she has slept with a white man, and because – shades of Faulkner – she reminds her dad of his sister, and arouses in him the incestuous desire without which no Southern tale, it seems, is complete. Alice Walker’s prose can be precise and vivid, but it also goes in for ...

In the Realm of the Senses

Michael Hofmann, 16 February 1984

... smoke and sights and consommations. The yellow Citröen sits up and fills its lungs, a black and white green-backed mongrel sees us off. The road skirts the airport like a stray runway. Incoming planes make as if to pick us off. Sometimes it divides: one half runs along the ground, the other makes a sudden hump – my fear of flyovers. A little further, I ...

The Butchers

Michael Longley, 9 November 1989

... their deliverer, who led them Along the clammy sheughs, then past the oceanic streams And the white rock, the sun’s gatepost in that dreamy region, Until they came to a bog-meadow full of bog-asphodels Where the residents are ghosts or images of the ...

H.H., 95

Michael Hofmann, 4 March 2021

... on sunshine, sunshine and Baileys.Baileys and discipline. Discipline and habit.Habit and white grapes. Chiefly sunshine.Her correct, quavery German.The enunciating, excruciating visitor.‘We go on living? Very well, we go on ...

Three Poems

Michael Hofmann, 4 August 1983

... starring your chest. Your beard – the friend of the writer who doesn’t smoke – is shot with white ... A Christmas card arrives to ask why you don’t have any grandchildren. Fine Adjustments By now, it is almost my father’s arm, a man’s arm, that lifts the cigarettes to my mouth numbed by smoke and raw onions and chocolate milk. I need ...


Michael Rogin, 5 September 1996

Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... was sung to open the games. Only Americans – Dennis Mitchell after winning a 100-metres heat and Michael Johnson after taking the 200-metre gold – puffed out their chests and pulled their jerseys to display the national emblem. Only Americans accused an Irish swimmer of using drugs when she won the Olympic gold. Only an eliminated American boxer, Fernando ...

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