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Ian Sansom, 11 December 1997

The Bounty 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 78 pp., £14.99, July 1997, 0 571 19130 4
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... Walcott’s extravagance of poetic diction and tendency to verbosity off-putting in the past’ (Peter Porter); ‘I feel that the fuss and the language are not quite justified by the donné’ (Roy Fuller). Derek Walcott has suffered, perhaps more than any other contemporary poet writing in English, from accusations that his work is too showy. Some of ...

Players, please

Jonathan Bate, 6 December 1984

The Oxford Book of War Poetry 
edited by Jon Stallworthy.
Oxford, 358 pp., £9.50, September 1984, 0 19 214125 2
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Secret Destinations 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 69 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 333 38268 4
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Fast Forward 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 64 pp., £4.50, October 1984, 0 19 211967 2
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Dark Glasses 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 71 pp., £3.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2875 5
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... read ‘fading’; for ‘The plains’, ‘These plains’. In Fast Forward, Peter Porter meditates persistently on the decline of Classical culture and the threat of nuclear war. What comes of the used-up Mediterranean When rockets point like pines in tundra Towards the profaned moon? he asks in ...

Subjects

Craig Raine, 6 October 1983

Peter PorterCollected Poems 
Oxford, 335 pp., £12.50, March 1983, 0 19 211948 6Show More
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... If the treatment of subject-matter is every-thing, we should not be too worried when Peter Porter tells us, referring to his family, that they are ‘quite without distinction’. In this, he is at one with Elizabeth Bishop and Tony Harrison, the former a great poet. However, like Elizabeth Bishop, ...

Lucky Moments

Robert Bernard Martin, 1 April 1983

Spirit of Wit: Reconsiderations of Rochester 
edited by Jeremy Treglown.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £14, September 1982, 0 631 12897 2
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... in his rivals. Although I should have thought that misanthropy was nearer the mark than misogyny, Peter Porter twice mentions Rochester’s ‘male chauvinism’, which today may be only the knee-jerk reaction of any masculine critic, automatically kicked out to protect himself by anticipation from the very charge he levels. Rochester’s flaunted ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... Durcan’s Going home to Russia, coming two years after The Berlin Wall Café contains 48 poems; Peter Redgrove’s In the Hall of the Saurians, one year after its predecessor, has 34; Norman MacCaig’s Voice-over, three years on from his Collected Poems, has 58; Cat’s Whisker by Philip Gross (three years on) 41; Jouissance by William Scammell (two ...

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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Annunciations 
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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... in it from the other books under review. Charles Tomlinson’s Annunciations and Peter Porter’s Possible Worlds share Renaissance Virgins for cover illustrations. Tomlinson’s is Lorenzo Lotto’s Annunciation, in which the angel has just leapt spectacularly over the balcony, terrifying the cat, to make his declaration to an ...

Australia strikes back

Les Murray, 13 October 1988

Snakecharmers in Texas 
by Clive James.
Cape, 373 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 224 02571 6
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... are successful abroad is that they shall give a leg up to their fellow-countrymen. A few do so; Peter Porter has been most generous, and Clive James has come to the task more recently, but also with generosity. In this vivacious and often sumptuous new collection of his essays, he has a great deal to say in praise of fellow expatriates, and some ...

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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... this sort of browned-off tone does for a good deal of the verse in Bell’s Complete Poems. Peter Porter writes that Bell ‘knew more about poetry than any other writer I have known’, yet the number of Bell’s best poems is small. Clearly he was multi-talented. A stanza from a version of Corbiere shows fine use of form and acoustics. Bell can ...

Porter for Leader

Jenny Diski, 8 December 1994

London: A Social History 
by Roy Porter.
Hamish Hamilton, 429 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 241 12944 3
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A City Full of People: Men and Women of London, 1650-1750 
by Peter Earle.
Methuen, 321 pp., £25, April 1994, 9780413681706
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... in its dirty yellow light. The authentic Londoner’s lament can be heard throughout Roy Porter’s history of London, which has, in addition, the other great metropolitan quality of cunning built into its very structure. What looks for all the world like yet another coffee-table picture book is in reality fat-full of angry words building to a ...

Best Things

Alan Hollinghurst, 20 August 1981

Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation with John Haffenden 
Faber, 189 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 0 571 11689 2Show More
A Free Translation 
by Craig Raine.
Salamander, 29 pp., £4.50, June 1981, 0 907540 02 3
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A German Requiem 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 9 pp., £1.50, January 1981, 0 907540 00 7
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Caviare at the Funeral 
by Louis Simpson.
Oxford, 89 pp., £4.50, April 1981, 0 19 211943 5
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... the last three years. Soloists with the chorus of praise have been distinguished and influential: Peter Porter, John Carey, John Bayley – and Raine himself has by no means been indisposed with laryngitis. His position in literary journalism and his access to the popularising media have played their part in his promotion. And the result of this rapid ...

Imbalance

Michael Hofmann: The Charm of Hugo Williams, 22 May 2003

Collected Poems 
by Hugo Williams.
Faber, 288 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 571 21233 6
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... on the jacket of Hugo Williams’s Collected Poems – Edna Longley, Douglas Dunn and Peter Porter – none is English. And yet Williams, born in Windsor during World War Two, the son of the English actor Hugh Williams, schooled by Life and Eton, a youthful toiler for Alan Ross’s London Magazine, an erstwhile globetrotter and a lifelong ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... of Clive James.* When, at one of the actual Festival’s talk-ins, I said that it was odd to find Peter Porter missing from various standard anthologies of Australian verse, I was given the clear impression that P.P. had simply got what he deserved. Among poets there was much talk of an ‘Australian identity’; one way of asserting this identity was to ...

Standing up to the city slickers

C.K. Stead, 18 February 1988

Selected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 667 0
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The Daylight Moon 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 86 pp., £6.95, February 1988, 0 85635 779 0
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... dialectic received their clearest definition in his essay ‘On sitting back and thinking about Porter’s Boeotia’,† an essay which takes off from Peter Porter’s poem ‘On first looking into Chapman’s Hesiod’, and which seems to have followed on from their interchange at the 1975 Poetry Australia ...

Shockers

Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... possible to write poems.’ Richler includes some grimly beautiful counter-examples, among them Peter Porter’s ‘Annotations of Auschwitz’, a poem which incorporates Adorno’s point:                     Such death, says the painter, is worthwhile – it makes a colour never known. It makes a sight that’s unimagined, says ...

The Road to Sligo

Tom Paulin, 17 May 1984

Poetry and Metamorphosis 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Cambridge, 97 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 521 24848 5
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Translations 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 120 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 19 211958 3
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Conversation with the Prince 
by Tadeusz Rozewicz, translated by Adam Czerniawski.
Anvil, 206 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 85646 079 6
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Passions and Impressions 
by Pablo Neruda, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 396 pp., £16.50, October 1983, 0 571 12054 7
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An Empty Room 
by Leopold Staff, translated by Adam Czerniawski.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £3.25, March 1983, 0 906427 52 5
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... a slight resentment towards translations, and in his clever ‘Poem Waiting to be Translated’, Peter Porter asks: Why not remember the heroes of hard situations, those who answered inquisitors in fresh parables, whose lyrical rejoinders are assembled here in memorial Penguins? Porter is glancing at the work of ...

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