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Return of the Male

Martin Amis, 5 December 1991

Iron John: A Book about Men 
by Robert Bly.
Element, 268 pp., £12.95, September 1991, 9781852302337
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The way men think: Intellect, Intimacy and the Erotic Imagination 
by Liam Hudson and Bernadine Jacot.
Yale, 219 pp., £16.95, November 1991, 0 300 04997 8
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Utne Reader. Men, it’s time to pull together: The Politics of Masculinity 
Lens, 144 pp., $4, May 1991Show More
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... Iron John, a short work of psychological, literary and anthropological speculation by the poet Robert Bly, ‘dominated’ the New York Times best-seller list for nearly a year, and has made, as we shall see, a heavy impact on many aspects of American life. It has not done so well over here. For this there are many reasons, but let us begin with the ...

Hoo-Hooing in the Birch

Michael Hofmann: Tomas Tranströmer, 15 June 2016

Bright Scythe: Selected Poems 
by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Patty Crane.
Sarabande, 207 pp., £13, November 2015, 978 1 941411 21 6
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... so did others as dissimilar as Joseph Brodsky, Andrew Motion and (one of his first translators) Robert Bly. Poets were drawn to translate him too: fellow Northerners like Robin Fulton (for a long time now a resident of Norway, though 48 years ago for small reward he was teaching me geography in Edinburgh) and Robin Robertson, or the Irishman John ...

Two Poems

Donald Hall, 19 August 1993

... for us. John         Ashbery sat in a corner shelling pistachio nuts;         Robert E. Bly wore a three- piece suit and a striped tie; Kenneth         Koch was always sarcastic. Once as we pasted an issue         together we discovered a blank page and teased Ashbery         to ...

Disgrace under Pressure

Andrew O’Hagan: Lad mags, 3 June 2004

Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
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Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men's Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
Show More
Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
Show More
Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
Show More
Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
Show More
Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men’s Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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... I’m totally broke and I’m almost homeless. How the fuck did I let this happen? A few years ago Robert Bly celebrated the notion of men running into the woods to beat their own chests, but many of the newer bibles of male self-realisation unwittingly celebrate something else: the notion that men might flee to the big cities and grow their own ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie, 1 July 1982

Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... Akers, Peter Abbs, John Hodgen, Andrew Motion, Edwin Drummond, Gregory Harrison, Gordon Mason and Robert Ballard, Isabel Nathaniel and Peter Didsbury, Anthony Edkins and Brian Cosgrove. Several get prizes, and in particular Andrew Motion gets the big one, £5,000, for a poem that either is, or successfully if pointlessly pretends to be, documentary ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: The Menopause, 10 October 1991

... Léa give Chéri up for a biologically-appropriate wife. ‘Men,’ man-in-the-news Iron John Bly reports, ‘are more lonesome in every generation.’ In the last few days, as I’ve been getting more and more inflamed in my thoughts about the human (i.e. female, i.e. menopausal) condition, I’ve been hearing a lot about how hard it is being a man and ...

My Americas

Donald Davie, 3 September 1981

... in which he argued – largely on the evidence of directions taken by several serious poets (Robert Lowell and Robert Bly, Elizabeth Bishop and Ed Dorn are those who come to mind) – that the North American imagination is beginning to define its identity no longer on a West-East axis, across the Atlantic to ...

Accessibility

Derek Mahon, 5 June 1980

Carminalenia 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 120 pp., £3.95, February 1980, 0 85635 284 5
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The Strange Museum 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 51 pp., £3.50, March 1980, 9780571115112
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The Psalms with their Spoils 
by Jon Silkin.
Routledge, 74 pp., £2.95, April 1980, 0 7100 0497 4
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The Equal Skies 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.75, March 1980, 0 7011 2491 1
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Sibyls and Others 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 141 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 09 141030 4
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... that somewhere along the line he absorbed the influence, for example, of the Minnesota poets, Robert Bly and James Wright. He has the same candour and simplicity, and, like them, sometimes lays himself open to a charge of naivety – technical as much as emotional, if we can distinguish between the two. But his naivety, if such it is, differs ...

Dancing and Flirting

Mark Ford: Apollinaire, 24 May 2018

Zone: Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Ron Padgett.
NYRB, 251 pp., £9.99, January 2016, 978 1 59017 924 6
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Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 281 pp., £9.99, November 2015, 978 0 19 968759 6
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... influenza. If he struck many of those who met him, from Alfred Jarry to Max Jacob to Picasso to Robert Delaunay, as larger than life, as the avant-garde spirit incarnate, and if his long poems, like those of Whitman and O’Hara, seem to expand and prolong themselves as effortlessly as amoebas in a petri dish, then beneath the shifting decors and personae a ...

11 September 1973

Christopher Hitchens: Crimes against Allende, 11 July 2002

Pinochet in Piccadilly: Britain and Chile’s Hidden History 
by Andy Beckett.
Faber, 280 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 571 20241 1
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... the potent verses entitled ‘They Receive Instructions against Chile’ (translated here by Robert Bly): But we have to see behind all these, there is something behind the traitors and the gnawing rats, an empire which sets the table, and serves up the nourishment and the bullets. They want to repeat their great success in Greece. Greek playboys ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney, 11 June 2009

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... at the beginning.’ Daily life there ‘added up to one long steady protest’, with poets – Robert Duncan, Robert Bly, Gary Snyder – joining in: the engagé styles that repelled other American writers showed Heaney ‘what it meant to be American. There was a trust that things could be changed.’ America meant ...

You Dying Nations

Jeremy Adler: Georg Trakl, 17 April 2003

Poems and Prose 
by Georg Trakl, translated by Alexander Stillmark.
Libris, 192 pp., £40, March 2001, 1 870352 51 3
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... Decline, his pamphlet of 1952, was not reprinted. There was a larger selection by James Wright and Robert Bly in 1961; and Hamburger’s sometime collaborator Christopher Middleton edited another in the much missed Cape Editions in 1968. Yet these did not gain Trakl the attention he deserves. It is odd that an English sensibility so well attuned to Sylvia ...

Hormone Wars

A. Craig Copetas, 23 April 1992

Crazy Cock 
by Henry Miller.
HarperCollins, 202 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 00 223943 4
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The Happiest Man Alive 
by Mary Dearborn.
HarperCollins, 368 pp., £18.50, July 1991, 0 00 215172 3
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... Cock is a steroid for the hormonal crisis currently under way in American bookshops. 1992 has Robert Bly and his middle-aged Boy Scouts leaping through forests dressed in feathers and pounding drums to scare the furry creatures, consecrate testosterone, and push the sale of Iron John. In Revolution From Within, Campfire Girl Gloria Steinem chronicles ...

The Poetry of John Ashbery

John Bayley, 2 September 1982

Shadow Train 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 50 pp., £3.25, March 1982, 0 85635 424 4
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... for example, from the gamy, compulsively readable anecdotage of late Berryman, in Love and Fame. Robert Creeley (much derided by Berryman), Richard Wilbur, Robert Bly and A.R. Ammons share something of this verbal standoffishness, but Ashbery is better at it than they are and uses it in more diverse and interesting ...

Three Minutes of Darkness

Theo Tait: Hari Kunzru, 26 July 2017

White Tears 
by Hari Kunzru.
Hamish Hamilton, 271 pp., £14.99, April 2017, 978 0 241 27295 4
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... as the archetypal Delta bluesman, a precursor to Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James and Robert Johnson: vagrants, rounders, always on the move – pursued, as Handy put it, by ‘suffering and hard luck’, conceiving their music ‘in aching hearts’. Hari Kunzru’s new novel is, among other things, a fictional meditation on the figure of the ...

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