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Waiting for the Poetry

Ange Mlinko: Was Adrienne Rich a poet?, 15 July 2021

The Power of Adrienne RichA Biography 
by Hilary Holladay.
Doubleday, 416 pp., £25, November 2020, 978 0 385 54150 3
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Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 345 pp., £13.99, May, 978 0 393 54142 7
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... Adrienne Rich’s​ poems speak so strongly to the current zeitgeist (dating from, say, the Occupy movement through #MeToo to Black Lives Matter) that it’s astounding – no, instructive – to realise they were written twenty, forty, fifty years ago:at your tabletelephone ringsevery four minutestalkof terrible thingsthe papers bringingno good news                                (‘New York’)False history gets made all day, any day,the truth of the new is never on the news                                (‘Turning the Wheel’)There is a cop who is both prowler and father …You have to confessto him, you are guilty of the crimeof having been forced                                (‘Rape’)Suppose you want to writeof a woman braidinganother woman’s hair –straight down, or with beads and shellsin three-strand plaits or corn-rows –you had better know the thicknessthe length the patternwhy she decides to braid her hairhow it is done to herwhat country it happens inwhat else happens in that country                                (‘North American Time’)Her essays employ an argot that contemporary opinion pieces might have cribbed from: ‘The creative energy of patriarchy is fast running out; what remains is its self-generating energy for destruction ...

Lemon and Pink

David Trotter: The Sorrows of Young Ford, 1 June 2000

Return to Yesterday 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Bill Hutchings.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 397 1
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War Prose 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.
Carcanet, 276 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 396 3
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... of Ford which treats the war as the natural division in his career, has pulled together a rich variety of reflections on conflict and its aftermath. These are, as it were, notes for the war memoir Ford might have written, but didn’t. Whether conceived as fiction, reminiscence, essay, lecture, preface or letter, they all move, as Saunders puts ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dictator’, 7 June 2012

The Dictator 
directed by Larry Charles.
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... I’m sure without any allusive intent, in Larry Charles’s The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as the evil Oriental Admiral General Aladeen. An eager American dissident says the police in her country are fascists. ‘Yes,’ our hero says, ‘but not in a good way.’ Still, in spite of the echo, there is no real American or English tradition of ...

Capitalism’s Capital

Jackson Lears: The Man Who Built New York, 17 March 2016

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York 
by Robert Caro.
Bodley Head, 1246 pp., £35, July 2015, 978 1 84792 364 6
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... power for the sake of more power. He was born in 1888 in New Haven, Connecticut. His mother, Bella Cohen Moses, was a strong-willed woman like her own mother, the ‘flashingly imperious’ Rosalie Silverman Cohen. The Cohens were part of the German-Jewish elite that profited from mercantile enterprise, assimilated to ...

Apocalypse Two

R.W. Johnson: Rwanda’s genocide, 21 June 2001

A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide 
by Linda Melvern.
Zed, 272 pp., £16.95, September 2000, 9781856498319
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... there is a historical accumulation of resentments against the entire group. Tutsi simply means ‘rich in cattle’, while Hutu means ‘servant’, and Hutu resentments are typically those of any underclass: an anger against past social injustices, a partly justified belief that all Tutsis condescend to them and prevailed on their Belgian colonial masters to ...

Be mean and nasty

Jenny Diski: Shirley Porter’s Story, 25 May 2006

Nothing like a Dame: The Scandals of Shirley Porter 
by Andrew Hosken.
Granta, 372 pp., £20, March 2006, 1 86207 809 2
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... was Margaret Thatcher’s mini-me; they were even both the daughters of grocers, though Jack Cohen’s Tesco proved to be a more lasting success than Alderman Roberts’s shop in Grantham. Porter rode high in public and party esteem thanks to a passionately media-friendly campaign to clear the streets of litter, and then by keeping Westminster rates ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... the Road’ (original typescript, 1951) Jack Kerouac, ‘The Slouch Hat’ (c.1960) John Cohen, ‘Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, Gregory Corso’ (1959) Wallace Berman, Untitled (Allen Ginsberg, c.1960)PreviousNext These names belong to the original small group of friends who met in New York in the early 1940s. Within ten years Ginsberg had moved to ...

Everybody knows

Christina Gombar: Kate Jennings, 22 August 2002

Moral Hazard 
by Kate Jennings.
Fourth Estate, 180 pp., £10, April 2002, 1 84115 737 6
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... tells her that derivatives are ‘freakish’ – straightforward gambling contracts. The Leonard Cohen song ‘Everybody Knows’ is his theme tune: everybody knows that what they’re doing is sleazy, risky and untenable; everybody knows that someday it’s going to implode. Getting the world of work right in fiction is difficult. Get bogged down in mundane ...

The Medium is the Market

Hal Foster: Business Art, 9 October 2008

... 1970s, the anti-regulatory policies of Reagan and Thatcher promoted a new class of the super-rich, some of whom became very visible collectors. Naturally, they favoured market-proven painting and sculpture over more experimental and critical forms. Charles Saatchi, an early backer of Hirst, was alert not only to the new investment potential of ...

The President’s Alternate

Fredrik Logevall: Bobby Kennedy, 18 May 2017

Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon 
by Larry Tye.
Ballantine, 624 pp., £15.58, May 2017, 978 0 8129 8350 0
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... precisely in his ability to bridge gaps, between urban workers and suburban professionals, between rich and poor, between white and black and Latino. By his willingness to change and to transcend the standard political categories, Tye’s Kennedy could have become America’s ‘high priest of reconciliation’. The seventh of the nine children of Joseph and ...

Brandenburg’s Dream

Derek Walmsley: Digital Piracy, 7 January 2016

How Music Got Free 
by Stephen Witt.
Bodley Head, 280 pp., £20, June 2015, 978 1 84792 282 3
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... leak many of the biggest albums of the decade, including Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter, 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and Kanye West’s The College Dropout, at a time which, in retrospect, looks like the mainstream music industry’s last hurrah. He was, in Witt’s estimation, ‘the most fearsome digital pirate of them all’. In the 1990s, when he was in ...

After Egypt

Adam Shatz, 17 February 2011

... showing in the 2005 parliamentary elections. Liberal champions, notably Nicholas Kristof and Roger Cohen in the New York Times, applauded the protesters for focusing on Egypt, rather than on America or Israel: the ‘Arab mind’, Cohen declared, was at last showing signs of maturity, shedding its obsession with American and ...

‘Someone you had to be a bit careful with’

David Sylvester: Gallery Rogues, 30 March 2000

Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... most cunning and ruthless manipulators of wealth, and they also know how to charm the old rich, key sources of supply. When they deal in the work of living artists they shape the careers of some of the most charismatic and paranoid individuals of their time. Their operations tend to sail dramatically close to the wind of commercial ethics and ...

What is Tom saying to Maureen?

Ian Hacking: What We Know about Autism, 11 May 2006

The Science and Fiction of Autism 
by Laura Schreibman.
Harvard, 293 pp., £17.95, December 2005, 0 674 01931 8
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Send in the Idiots, or How We Grew to Understand the World 
by Kamran Nazeer.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £12.99, March 2006, 0 7475 7910 5
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... autism should be treated by psychoanalysis. Kanner was not wholly wrong, by the way. Simon Baron-Cohen, the best-known British autism researcher today, has a research programme to investigate the extent to which the family trees of autists are made up of engineers, scientists and other abstract thinkers whose lives revolve around cold structures rather than ...

Who Are They?

Jenny Turner: The Institute of Ideas, 8 July 2010

... than this allows; apart from anything else, such a belief generates more exciting copy. Nick Cohen, the Observer columnist and author of What’s Left: How the Left Lost Its Way (2007), has called them ‘a vicious movement’ and ‘the smallest and nastiest of the Trotskyist sects’ (the latter in a piece from 2002 that prophetically notes how ...

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