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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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... by a gust of testosterone and a few tumbleweeds of pubic hair: the Old Man, the Deep Male – Iron John. Iron John, a short work of psychological, literary and anthropological speculation by the poet RobertBly, ‘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 ...

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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... to readers, either at home or abroad. Poets liked him. Seamus Heaney of course liked him, but so did others as dissimilar as Joseph Brodsky, Andrew Motion and (one of his first translators) RobertBly. 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 ...

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
Show More
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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... against me legally, well, yes, I probably am going to get screwed. I’m screwed already. I’m 40. I’m totally broke and I’m almost homeless. How the fuck did I let this happen? A few years ago RobertBly 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 ...

Two Poems

Donald Hall

19 August 1993
... in nineteen- forty-eight, we argued all         night about whether a poem was good enough 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 ...

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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... Barbara Moore, David MacSweeney (one out of two), Randall Garrison, Donald Stallybrass, Ellery 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 ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: The Menopause

10 October 1991
... in life or in books. Even Colette, who pioneered the notion of the young man and the older woman, makes 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 ...

My Americas

Donald Davie

3 September 1981
... Reid.1 Felstiner some years ago wrote an essay that I for my part found arresting and persuasive, in which he argued – largely on the evidence of directions taken by several serious poets (Robert Lowell and RobertBly, 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 ...

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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... An active propagandist for poetry, he nevertheless belongs to no ‘school’, although I would guess that somewhere along the line he absorbed the influence, for example, of the Minnesota poets, RobertBly 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 ...

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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... only after two years of war service, and two years before his death at the age of 38 of Spanish 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 ...

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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... an assertive response could be made: ‘I was taller and freer in myself at the end of the year than at the beginning.’ Daily life there ‘added up to one long steady protest’, with poets – Robert Duncan, RobertBly, 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 ...

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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... left to woman, except womanhood. There are no quiet policy shifts in American sexual politics, and Crazy Cock is a steroid for the hormonal crisis currently under way in American bookshops. 1992 has RobertBly 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 ...

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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... translations established Hölderlin and Celan in English, but he was less fortunate with Trakl, and Decline, his pamphlet of 1952, was not reprinted. There was a larger selection by James Wright and RobertBly 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 ...

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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... guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard. Musical historians have seen Handy’s rambling guitarist 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 ...

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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... his politics, and have allowed this to infect his poetry, but he was writing as a patriot when he composed the potent verses entitled ‘They Receive Instructions against Chile’ (translated here by RobertBly): 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 ...
2 September 1982
Shadow Train 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 50 pp., £3.25, March 1982, 0 85635 424 4
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... is a comparatively recent phenomenon in American poetry. Nothing could be more different, for example, from the gamy, compulsively readable anecdotage of late Berryman, in Love and Fame. Robert Creeley (much derided by Berryman), Richard Wilbur, RobertBly 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 ...

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