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Three Poems

Michael​ Hofmann

10 February 1994
... with silences. Then a family event if ever there was one: my mother reads my translation of my father, who hasn’t read aloud since his ‘event’. Darkness falls outside. Inside too. Ted Hughes is in the small audience, and afterwards asks my father whether he ever, like an Inuit, dreamed of his own defeat and death. My father, who’s heard some questions, but never anything like this ...
28 May 1992
Barcelona 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 575 pp., £20, May 1992, 0 00 272078 7
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Barcelonas 
by Manuel Vazquez Montalban, translated by Andrew Robinson.
Verso, 210 pp., £17.95, May 1992, 0 86091 353 8
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Cities of Spain 
by David Gilmour.
Murray, 214 pp., £17.95, March 1992, 0 7195 4833 0
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Red City, Blue Period: Social Movements in Picasso’s Barcelona 
by Temma Kaplan.
California, 266 pp., $30, April 1992, 0 520 07507 2
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... sense, or the spirit of compromise, but it is also rendered as wisdom and intelligence, and Temma Kaplan associates it with solidarity. ‘The man of seny,’ we learn from a Catalan writer quoted by Hughes, ‘renounces neither salvation nor experience, and is always trying to set up a fruitful integration between both opposed, warring extremes.’ Sounds altogether reasonable, but not as if it needs a ...

On Michael​ O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael​ O’Brien

16 February 2017
... Very few​ significant American poets called as little attention to themselves in their lifetimes as Michael O’Brien, who died last November at the age of 77. Much as with Lorine Niedecker – whose ‘silences’, he wrote, ‘derive from an intellectual conviction that art, like science, demands total ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes​ in His Cage

17 March 2016
Ted HughesThe Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... So much​ in the life and work of Ted Hughes was weird and transgressive that even now, 18 years after his death, it is hard to feel confident that his actions and beliefs and literary achievement can be judiciously and authoritatively assessed ...
22 December 1983
The Battle for Bermondsey 
by Peter Tatchell.
Heretic Books, 170 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 946097 11 9
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... fed up with it to sue. All such enemies are, of course, in the Labour Party. Those outside are apparently only playing bit-parts in the story, and this includes the victor of the by-election, Simon Hughes, who makes his one-line appearance on page 148. ‘Simon Hughes is an average Liberal candidate with all the political deficiencies this implies.’ For most of Tatchell’s anticipated audience his ...

Going underground

Elaine Showalter

12 May 1994
The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Janet Malcolm.
Knopf, 208 pp., $23, April 1994, 0 679 43158 6
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... Ours is not an age in which literary events get much attention, but the publication in the New Yorker last August of Janet Malcolm’s study of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes was an exception. Brilliantly packaged with reprints of the Plath poems which the New Yorker had originally published, the issue was a sell-out on both sides of the Atlantic, and for weeks no dinner ...
1 June 2000
Approximately Nowhere 
by Michael​ Hofmann.
Faber, 77 pp., £7.99, April 1999, 0 571 19524 5
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... Michael Hofmann’s poetry is a lament for a lost world. Some years ago, in an article on Frank O’Hara, he talked about New York no longer being the thrilling place it had been in the days when O’Hara ...

A to Z

Ian Hamilton: Schmidt’s List

4 March 1999
Lives of the Poets 
by Michael​ Schmidt.
Weidenfeld, 960 pp., £22, October 1998, 0 297 84014 2
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A Critical Difference: T.S. Eliot and John Middleton Murry in English Literary Criticism, 1919-28 
by David Goldie.
Oxford, 232 pp., £35, October 1998, 0 19 812379 5
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... Yalden, Hammond, Stepney, Fenton (Elijah) and Hughes (John): where are you now? Ten of the 52 poets represented in Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets fail to make an appearance in the Oxford Companion to English Literature. On its own, of course ...

I’m not an actress

Michael​ Newton: Ava Gardner

7 September 2006
Ava Gardner 
by Lee Server.
Bloomsbury, 551 pp., £20, April 2006, 0 7475 6547 3
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... as the ‘most beautiful thing he had ever seen’. To others, she was ‘an extraordinary creature’, ‘the Taj Mahal of beauty’. Or she ‘was like an animal, Ava. The sex thing.’ When Howard Hughes suggested that after her three previous marriages, he ought really to have a turn, she replied: ‘You make it sound like I’m a pony ride at the county fair.’ The posters for The Barefoot ...
2 February 2017
... That’s how​ Matthew Dickman describes the death, in 2007, of his older half-brother, Darin Hull. His loss isn’t the only topic in Matthew’s poems, or in the poems of his twin brother, Michael, but it is one for which both poets are known – widely known, in the US, as poets go. They have now been introduced to the UK in an unusually designed volume: Brother (Faber, £10.99) contains ten ...

Retrospective

Donald Davie

2 February 1984
A World of Difference 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, June 1983, 0 7011 2693 0
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... his 14th) more than any other book of verse in a long time. Crozier chiefly considers what he isolates as the currently accepted canon of excellence in post-1945 poetry: a canon consisting of Larkin, Hughes and Heaney. These three poets of the period have been most often treated to admiring essays both here and in the States, and it is these three who more than any of their contemporaries figure on the ...

Jihad

James Wood

5 August 1993
TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael​ Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... is an obvious disaster; the 55 poets, you feel, blush for it. Mostly they contradict it. The style of interesting poets like Peter Didsbury, John Ash, Pauline Stainer and one of the editors, Michael Hulse, is not particularly ‘democratic’, but playfully enigmatic and donnish. There is a tendency to think aloud with a somewhat creaky jauntiness, as if the poets were sharing secrets with their ...
21 August 1997
The Car that Could: The Inside Story of GM’s Revolutionary Electric Vehicle 
by Michael​ Shnayerson.
Random House, 295 pp., $25, November 1996, 9780679421054
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... and labour force. The competition to create a state-of-the-art electric car for the next century began in the Eighties with another race. General Motors acquired a Californian aerospace firm, Hughes Aircraft, and was not sure what to do with its new property beyond the vague desire for a glitzy technology transfer. The company was often attacked for its failure to invest in R&D and in 1987, as a ...
7 March 1985
Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... maggots make new flies is what Grigson’s report comes to. In one of the new poems, ‘April Values’, he urges us to be more exclusive: Let us not prefer Ashbery to Yeats, Let us not suppose T. Hughes, On shining floors, Goes waltzing with a lyrical Muse. But the rebuke comes in verse which itself should stand rebuked. It is a pity that Grigson, a good poet in a context in which achievement is ...

Fading Out

John Redmond

2 November 1995
The Ghost Orchid 
by Michael​ Longley.
Cape, 66 pp., £7, May 1995, 0 224 04112 6
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... even more pleasant is the difficulty of being found. Among other splendid things,‘the West’ is the land of transplanted urban dream kingdoms, a paradise for poets who do not wish to be disturbed. Michael Viney’s documentary, The Corner of the Eye, opens with a slow sweep across this landscape, a picture of distances fringed with purple and a few tawny cows nosing through the foreground, then ...

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