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21 March 1985
Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture 
by Paul Cummings, Jorn Merkert and Claire Stoullig.
Norton, 308 pp., £35, August 1984, 0 393 01840 7
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Abstract Expressionist Painting in America 
by William Seitz.
Harvard, 490 pp., £59.95, February 1984, 0 674 00215 6
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About Rothko 
by Dore Ashton.
Oxford, 225 pp., £15, August 1984, 0 19 503348 5
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The Art of the City: Views and Versions of New York 
by Peter Conrad.
Oxford, 329 pp., £15, June 1984, 0 19 503408 2
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... The landmarks of New York – the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, the Rockefeller and World Trade Centres – have no ceremonial public function. Victories are consecrated in the streets, with ticker-tape falling. And New York painting is like New York celebrations: it has not been made for palaces and chapels. Reginald Marsh’s Coney Island bathers were its Three Graces, George Bellows’s boxers ...


Paul​ Foot: The Buttocks Problem

5 September 1996
... New Statesman. Frank McEachran, a Henry George Liberal by politics, introduced me not just to a different Milton and Shakespeare but to entirely unheard-of poets: Auden, Eliot, Hopkins, E.E. Cummings. These were taught by McEachran not as classroom fodder but as living poets. In that last summer of 1956 there was no cruelty or sadism endured or inflicted. I was sad to leave, and was naturally ...

His Fucking Referendum

David Runciman: What Struck Cameron

10 October 2019
For the Record 
by David Cameron.
William Collins, 732 pp., £25, September, 978 0 00 823928 2
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... to better use – and he thought he had his friend’s agreement. Then, out of the blue, ‘Michael emailed to say he had changed his mind.’ Cameron responded with raw fury. ‘I smelt Dominic Cummings,’ he says, ‘and totally flipped.’ He called Gove to say that he refused to accept his email and was holding him to his previous agreement to take the job. He followed this up with a text ...

Mon Pays

Michael Rogin: Josephine Baker

22 February 2001
The Josephine Baker Story 
by Ean Wood.
Sanctuary, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 1 86074 286 6
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Negrophilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s 
by Petrine Archer-Straw.
Thames and Hudson, 200 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 0 500 28135 1
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... and Gertrude Stein, Cocteau and Le Corbusier (he imagined making her the star of a musical production in which she would evolve from monkey to modern woman), Kurt Weill and Max Reinhardt, E.E. Cummings and Janet Flanner, Sartre and de Beauvoir. Alexander Calder’s wire caricature of her (it seems to move on the page of Petrine Archer-Straw’s book) was the prototype for his subsequent mobiles ...

Scandal in Pittsburgh

David Nasaw: Andrew Mellon

19 July 2007
Mellon: An American Life 
by David Cannadine.
Allen Lane, 779 pp., £30, November 2006, 0 7139 9508 4
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... married, she asked for a divorce: she wanted to live with the man she had been seeing for two years. Andrew tried to talk her out of her ‘madness’. They stayed together, and had a second child, Paul, in 1907. In 1909, Nora, who had started seeing her lover again, once more asked her husband for a divorce and enough money to settle comfortably with the children in England: she could not, she ...

One Summer in America

Eliot Weinberger

26 September 2019
... At a rally in North Carolina, the president repeats his attack on the women. The crowd chants: ‘Send her back! Send her back!’*After the elderly and revered African American congressman Elijah Cummings of Baltimore threatens to subpoena Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to appear before his House Oversight Committee, the president tweets: ‘Cummings has been a brutal bully … Cumming District [sic ...
19 January 1984
... In the Thirties and Forties English readers – and even English poets – knew surprisingly little about American poets, except for the few, like Pound and Cummings, who set out to make themselves international figures. Thus it was not really surprising that, early in 1943, when I received a letter from a poet named Kenneth Rexroth in San Francisco, I knew ...

All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman

1 July 2015
The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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... The Waste Land, Lustra, Harmonium, Spring and All, and so many others, had been written long ago and had exhausted the poetic impulse. Nothing was left for us to do.’ The Chicago poet and editor Paul Carroll, born in 1926, wrote: To a young poet the scene in American verse in the late 1940s and early 1950s seemed much like walking down 59th Street in New York for the first time. Elegant and ...

Slapping the Clammy Flab

John Lanchester: Hannibal by Thomas Harris

29 July 1999
by Thomas Harris.
Heinemann, 496 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 434 00940 7
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... information about a serial killer, currently on the loose, who has skinned his five female victims, and acquired the unlovely nickname of Buffalo Bill. (The name is from the eponymous poem by e.e. cummings: ‘how do you like your blueeyed boy/Mister Death’. ) On the walls of the cell are Lecter’s drawings; one over the sink shows the Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, seen from the ...

Cardigan Arrest

Robert Potts: Poetry in Punglish

21 June 2007
Look We Have Coming to Dover! 
by Daljit Nagra.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 571 23122 5
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... that ‘today’s children’ are ingesting the (fake, posh) old verse forms? Or is Nagra satirising both forms of cultural atavism? In ‘Yobbos!’, Nagra complicates these issues further. Reading Paul Muldoon’s ‘sharp lemon-skinned/Collected Poems’ on the train home, he is abused by a racist passenger: ‘Some Paki shit, like,/eee’s loookin into!’ Finding Muldoon’s use of names like ...


David Bromwich: Putin to the Rescue

26 September 2013
... mood in those early September days, the mood of a democracy looking at itself. John McCain was accused of recklessness at a town meeting in Arizona by a woman with a Syrian cousin. Senator Rand Paul, the white libertarian from Kentucky, and Congressman Elijah Cummings, the black liberal from Baltimore, reported alike that the people they saw in their home districts were opposed to an attack by ...

Paradise Lost

Nicholas Everett

11 July 1991
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 325 pp., £17.50, September 1990, 0 571 16070 0
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Collected Poems 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 456 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 7011 3713 4
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The Mail from Anywhere 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, September 1990, 0 19 282779 0
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An Elegy for the Galosherman: New and Selected Poems 
by Matt Simpson.
Bloodaxe, 128 pp., £6.95, October 1990, 1 85224 103 9
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... not enough.’ Gros-Ilet, a small village on the St Lucian coast, is the main setting for Omeros, Walcott’s most extended and schematic exorcism of history and mythology. The poem is – to borrow Paul Zweig’s phrase for ‘Song of Myself’ – a ‘therapeutic epic’. Each of its main characters represents an unfortunate aspect of the West Indian inheritance which, as the poem progresses, is ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties

4 June 1998
Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... of the blacklisted screenwriter and playwright Donald Ogden Stewart and his journalist wife, Ella Winter. In Frognal, Sayre met Charlie Chaplin (depicted as arrogant, politically obtuse and unfunny), Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Dubois, the left-wing filmmakers Joseph Losey, Carl Foreman and Abraham Polonsky, the screenwriters Richard Collins, Ring Lardner Jr and Waldo Salt, the critics Harold Clurman and Ken ...

An UnAmerican in New York

Lewis Nkosi: Eric Walrond

24 August 2000
Winds Can Wake Up the Dead: An Eric Walrond Reader 
edited by Louis Parascandola.
Wayne State, 350 pp., $24.95, December 1998, 0 8143 2709 5
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... consciousness of the 1920s coincided, of course, with the arrival of the Jazz Age. Josephine Baker was the toast of Paris. After seeing her in Chocolate Dandies, the Greenwich Village poet, e.e. cummings reported ecstatically that ‘she resembled some tall, vital, incomparably fluid nightmare which crossed its eyes, warped its limbs in a purely unearthly manner.’ The Lindy, the Charleston and ...

Tell us, Solly

Tim Radford: Solly Zuckerman

20 September 2001
Solly Zuckerman: A Scientist out of the Ordinary 
by John Peyton.
Murray, 252 pp., £22.50, May 2001, 9780719562839
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... enduring friends with a number of celebrities on both sides of the Atlantic. These were not just any old fleeting celebrities: they included Charles Laughton, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Ira Gershwin, e.e. cummings and Lord Mountbatten. He became conspicuously friendly with the Duke of Edinburgh. Science was not then, and has never been, a celebrity preoccupation, but war tends to move science rapidly up the ...

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