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13 February 1992
The Man with Night Sweats 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 88 pp., £5.99, February 1992, 0 571 16257 6
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... It had all been a fantasy, ‘the family’ should set the limits of human experience. Gays, Section 28 says, have only pretended families. The largest gathering of the decade in San Francisco, where ThomGunn lives, and in many cities, is made up of people with, or who have died of, Aids. The phrase occurs in ‘Courtesies of the Interregnum’, where Gunn tells how a friend, who once had hosted ...
20 April 1995
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... Fame is difficult for a writer to deal with,’ ThomGunn writes in his essay on Allen Ginsberg’s poetry. ‘It dries you up, or it makes you think you are infallible, or your writing becomes puffed out with self-esteem. (Victor Hugo thought himself ...

Lament

Thom Gunn

4 October 1984
... Your dying was a difficult enterprise. First, petty things took up your energies, The small but clustering duties of the sick, As irritant as the cough’s dry rhetoric. Those hours of waiting for pills, shot, X-ray Or test (while you read novels two a day) Already with a kind of clumsy stealth Distanced you from the habits of your health.   In hope still, courteous still, but tired and thin, You ...

Out of the Eater

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Thom Gunn

6 July 2000
Boss Cupid 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 115 pp., £7.99, March 2000, 0 571 20298 5
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... ThomGunn has an intelligent rock star’s ear for titles: Fighting Terms, My Sad Captains, Touch, Moly, Jack Straw’s Castle, The Man with Night Sweats. Punchy and enigmatic, they read like the back ...

Looking Up

Donald Davie

15 July 1982
The Passages of Joy 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 93 pp., £4, June 1982, 0 571 11867 4
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The Occasions of Poetry 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 188 pp., £6.95, June 1982, 0 571 11733 3
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... In the past, I have been persuaded by those like Colin Falck who have thought ThomGunn’s distinctive and great achievement was to have re-established creative connections with at least one aspect of Shakespeare, and with some of Shakespeare’s great contemporaries, notably Marlowe ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... make a point of including as if he were on the margin, is far from being a stranger to mainstream anthologies, while Basil Bunting, Dylan Thomas, Edwin Morgan, R.S. Thomas, Iain Crichton Smith, ThomGunn, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig are unassailably part of our consciousness of the poetic landscape. Auden and MacNeice, too, though the omission in both books of Stephen Spender suggests that he ...

Diary

August Kleinzahler: Remembering Thom Gunn

4 November 2004
... weren’t symmetrically arranged and, like some outlandish pink crepe accessory, didn’t really go with anything else. But I hated to lose them. Like Paris, they looked their best in grey light. ThomGunn brought over a sackful of the bulbs (amaryllis belladonna) I don’t recall how many years ago, ten or twelve perhaps. He was always doing things like that. He liked gardening and wanted me to ...
21 February 1980
Moortown 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 176 pp., £5.25, October 1980, 0 571 11453 9
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Selected Poems 1955-1975 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 131 pp., £4.50, October 1980, 0 571 11512 8
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Collected Poems 1942-1977 
by W.S. Graham.
Faber, 268 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 571 11416 4
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... too recognisable world of the M5 Restaurant, which has yet never been seen so horribly or so exactly before, with its ‘symbolic food eaten by symbolic faces’, its ‘symbolic eating movements’. ThomGunn, too, has a poem about a meths-drinking hobo, which is moving, and as finished in its own way as the poem by Hughes. The finished quality in Gunn’s case is that of its being more obviously a ...

Enormities

C.H. Sisson

27 September 1990
Collected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 475 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 85635 875 4
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... and – if one can put it that way – about the politics of style. He first came to notice as one of the Movement poets of the Fifties, which marks him as originally associated with, among others, ThomGunn, Elizabeth Jennings and Philip Larkin. No less than they, he has gone his own way and no purpose is served by hanging this historical label round his neck now. Even in its time it contributed ...

On the Feast of Stephen

Karl Miller: Spender’s Journals

30 August 2012
New Selected Journals, 1939-95 
by Stephen Spender and Lara Feigel, edited by John Sutherland.
Faber, 792 pp., £45, July 2012, 978 0 571 23757 9
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... I imagine, who stayed with the intriguing literary eminence kindly characterised, eventually, in John Sutherland’s biography.* Nevertheless, a suspicion persisted. Sharp little verses – by ThomGunn and John Coleman – were flighted; and Ian Hamilton capped it all with a brilliant and damaging New Yorker profile. Stephen grew used to being abused. He abused himself. He could seem generous and ...

On Not Being Sylvia Plath

Colm Tóibín: Thom Gunn​ on the Move

13 September 2018
Selected Poems 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 336 pp., £16.99, July 2017, 978 0 571 32769 0
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... was ‘savage with gang warfare’. I thought that England, since the war, had reverted to being a peaceful and refined place with factories and offices where Irish people could easily find work. ThomGunn photographed by Rollie McKenna in 1957 It was strange being alone with these two books; even the names of the poets – Charles Tomlinson, or David Gascoyne, or Robert Conquest, or John ...
19 August 1982
Swansongs 
by Sue Lenier.
Oleander Press, 80 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 9780906672044
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Collected Poems 
by Sylvia Plath, edited by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 351 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 10573 4
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Devotions 
by Clive Wilmer.
Carcanet, 63 pp., £3.25, June 1982, 0 85635 359 0
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... composed to be much more than the sum of its parts, tightly metrical verses first and last, framing a central section of short-lined free verse that owes much (and very properly) to the practice of ThomGunn. There are three poems – ‘Among Bric-a-brac’, ‘An Autumn Vision’ and ‘Homecoming’ – where the effort after metrical tightness betrays Wilmer into the too choicely archaic diction ...

Flirting with Dissolution

Mark Ford: August Kleinzahler

5 April 2001
Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems 1975-90 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 82 pp., £8.99, September 2000, 0 571 20428 7
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... that year. Afterwards he worked at a variety of jobs (cab-driver, lumberjack, locksmith) in a variety of places (Alaska, Montreal, Portugal) but in 1981 settled in San Francisco, where he met ThomGunn, to whom his most recent book, Green Sees Things in Waves (1998), is dedicated. Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club is divided into two sections, ‘East’ and ‘West’, though a number of poems ...

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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... or is in the clutches of) a bus pass. He writes about prep school and childhood, and yet the poems he wrote just out of adolescence, forty years ago, in the manner of the late Movement and especially ThomGunn, are his starchiest. His poems are full of haircuts and suits, but he is probably the least materialist of poets; or, conversely put, his poems aspire to the lift-off of prayer, and yet they are ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie

3 February 1983
Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... Many years ago ThomGunn remarked: ‘To write poetry without knowing, for example, about the proper use of runovers used to be considered as impertinent as it would be now to apply for a job as a truck driver without ...

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