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Eternal Feminine

Ian Gregson, 7 January 1993

Landlocked 
by Mark Ford.
Chatto, 51 pp., £5.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3750 9
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The English Earthquake 
by Eva Salzman.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 1 85224 177 2
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Bleeding Heart Yard 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 871471 28 1
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The Game: Tennis Poems 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 48 pp., £6, June 1992, 1 871471 27 3
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Marconi’s Cottage 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Bloodaxe, 110 pp., £6.95, May 1992, 1 85224 197 7
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... this context, and in their use of it Ford’s poems have affinities with those of Glyn Maxwell and Simon Armitage. The habit all three poets have of paraphrasing rather than quoting the speech of their characters tends to upset stable perspectives by mingling the voices of author and character and so raising the question of whose point of view is ...

Ever so comfy

James Wood, 24 March 1994

Collected Poems 1953-1993 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 241 00167 6
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Dante’s Drum-Kit 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 145 pp., £6.99, November 1993, 0 571 17055 2
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Old Men and Comets 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 64 pp., £6.99, November 1994, 0 19 283176 3
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Plato’s Ladder 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 79 pp., £6.99, November 1992, 0 19 282986 6
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The Country at My Shoulder 
by Moniza Alvi.
Oxford, 56 pp., £6.99, September 1993, 0 19 283125 9
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British Subjects 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, July 1993, 1 85224 248 5
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Night Photograph 
by Lavinia Greenlaw.
Faber, 54 pp., £5.99, October 1993, 0 571 16894 9
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Nil Nil 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 53 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16808 6
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Out of Danger 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 103 pp., £7.50, December 1993, 0 14 058719 5
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... an enormous talent, though he needs to discipline it. He needs to avoid the blokeish bluntness of Simon Armitage, who peers through some of the diction (Paterson’s natural diction is sheepish and sleepy). Above all, he needs to develop his notion of what is permissible within the poem. At present, his poems are too enigmatic, foreshortened; they are a ...

Punch-up at the Poetry Reading

Joanna Kavenna: Dorothy Porter’s verse novel, 7 May 1998

The Monkey's Mask 
by Dorothy Porter.
Serpent’s Tail, 264 pp., £9.99, October 1997, 1 85242 549 0
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... Give me a good bottle of wine/a woman with wit and spark.’ The overall impression is of Simon Armitage with turrets or William Carlos Williams with a cracking hangover. The Monkey’s Mask cannot decide if it desires or despises us, but Porter is determined that we won’t be lulled or lightly entertained. This is a work which declares open war ...

Yearning for Polar Seas

James Hamilton-Paterson: North, 1 September 2005

The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule 
by Joanna Kavenna.
Viking, 334 pp., £16.99, February 2005, 0 670 91395 2
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The Idea of North 
by Peter Davidson.
Reaktion, 271 pp., £16.95, January 2005, 1 86189 230 6
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... the more deeply felt his writing becomes. His examination of Northern poets such as David Morley, Simon Armitage and Sean O’Brien is marvellously sensitive to their regionalism and to the bitter undertow of history and class politics in some of their work. I have a grouse about both these books: neither has an index. Also, when reading Davidson I ...

All change. This train is cancelled

Iain Sinclair: The Dome, 13 May 1999

... boats from nostalgic black and white photographs. It was an unoptioned metaphor with its own poet, Simon Armitage, hired to knock up a thousand-line tribute. Time drifted. The 12 minutes of the virtual reality journey in the brochures was actually the time between trains, the time spent enjoying the strange termini in which potential travellers are ...

Diary

Mary Wellesley: The Wyldrenesse of Wyrale, 26 April 2018

... It is a bit brown and the scribal hand is functional, unremarkable, almost ugly. For Simon Armitage the scribe’s letter forms are ‘like crusading chess pieces’, which is a disservice to chessmen. Sometime after it was written, it was illustrated by an artist endowed with exuberance rather than skill. The figures which appear in the ...

Diary

Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... 10 March. At 6:45 a.m. I set off by car service to Newark airport to catch the 10 a.m. Virgin/Continental flight to Gatwick. At this time of the morning the New Jersey Turnpike is too busy altogether. This use of altogether, I’m reminded by Terence Patrick Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, means ‘wholly, completely’ and may be compared to the Irish phrase ar fad, particularly in its positioning at the end of a sentence ...

Hasped and Hooped and Hirpling

Terry Eagleton: Beowulf, 11 November 1999

Beowulf 
translated by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 104 pp., £14.99, October 1999, 9780571201136
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... own from the outset. It is hard to know quite how Beowulf is the origin of Arthur Hugh Clough or Simon Armitage, but in any case Heaney has dug down with his pen to ‘the first stratum of the language’ and appropriated his birthright. As Harold Bloom might less decorously put it, the belated bastard offspring has now installed himself as the founding ...

Jihad

James Wood, 5 August 1993

TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... Hattersley). And it is true that a fighting politics seethes in poets like Sean O’Brien and Simon Armitage. One feels, however, that the best and most interesting poets in this large anthology are not the writers that fit inside the editorial fist. For instance, the introduction makes much of the ballad-writers like Paul Durcan and Geoff ...

So Much More Handsome

Matthew Reynolds: Don Paterson, 4 March 2004

Landing Light 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 84 pp., £12.99, September 2003, 0 571 21993 4
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... do, and then the twist into half rhyme happens with the turning of the page (that cadence is very Simon Armitage and I would guess that he is the immediate goad here). Both the humour and the melancholy of Paterson’s poem is that, for all its verve, it can’t attempt the simple thing of making word and object merge: the best it can do is be a poem ...

In the Châtelet

Jeremy Harding, 20 April 1995

François Villon: Complete Poems 
edited by Barbara Sargent-Bauer.
Toronto, 346 pp., £42, January 1995, 0 8020 2946 9
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Basil Bunting: Complete Poems 
edited by Richard Caddel.
Oxford, 226 pp., £10.99, September 1994, 0 19 282282 9
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... have enjoyed the idea of a poet as someone who was worth the price of the clothes he stood in (Simon Armitage, £ 1055; Andrew Motion, £ 953; Glynn Maxwell, £520 – all totals excluding underwear). Villon, CHASCUN LE SCET, would have been unable to resist a flutter on the fate of his soul by offering to model everything, then nothing, in a ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... had William Blake: The Collected Poems at number six (in company with Seamus Heaney, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage and Margaret Atwood). The book was puffed as ‘the background to Peter Ackroyd’s best-selling biography’. The hike to Felpham, a dormitory of the living dead, was unremarkable. I understood why the journey took Blake 18 hours. There were ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier, 4 January 2018

... a kind of courage of which I would have been incapable.19 May. I’m reading The Unaccompanied, Simon Armitage’s latest collection of poems. They always ring bells, though, like Larkin, he’ll often take off at the end of a poem when I don’t always follow. There’s a lovely funny poem in this collection, ‘Poundland’, which is enviably ...

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