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Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... who belonged and who didn’t, and so on. Many commentators have been tempted to concur with Thom Gunn’s later weariness: ‘The whole business looks now like a lot of categorising foolishness.’ Yet it is a label that has stuck, at once serviceable and misleading, much as we still speak of ‘the Metaphysicals’ or ‘the Georgians’ before ...


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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... wrote just out of adolescence, forty years ago, in the manner of the late Movement and especially Thom Gunn, 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 regularly menaced by prosiness and anecdote. Reading ...

Vehicles of Dissatisfaction

Jonathan Dollimore: Men and Motors, 24 July 2003

Autopia: Cars and Culture 
edited by Peter Wollen and Joe Kerr.
Reaktion, 400 pp., £25, November 2002, 1 86189 132 6
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... and partly compensating for them. Today these skills are derided even as they disappear. Thom Gunn once wrote a poem celebrating them called ‘All do not all things well’ – it’s not mentioned in Autopia – which describes two ‘auto freaks’ from the American underclass who dismantle cars on driveways. Neighbours who disapprove ...

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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... variety of places (Alaska, Montreal, Portugal) but in 1981 settled in San Francisco, where he met Thom Gunn, 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 also cross-cut from coast to coast. The air ...

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 Thom Gunn 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 knowing how to shift gear.’ (Wearily, in a sanguine attempt not to be misunderstood, he added: ‘It is true that being able to shift gears does not mean that one can drive straight or that one has the necessary stamina to keep the job, but it is a prerequisite ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... talk,’ as he described himself in a late poem. Jarnot’s book gives the sense that his friend Thom Gunn couldn’t have been the only person to dodge one of Duncan’s monologues by faking sleep, though Gunn also insisted Duncan was great fun to have around. (It’s also possible that Duncan’s chattiness once ...


John Bayley: In defence of Larkin, 22 April 1993

... new scheme for giving some money to good poets, not necessarily young ones. As it turned out, Thom Gunn, once associated with Larkin in the ‘Movement’, was the chief beneficiary. But what struck me most about the numerous entries, all of which had been published in magazines or in booklet form, was that they were poems with the right ...


Alison Light: The death of Raphael Samuel, 22 February 2001

... height of corruption). I had a party to mark the new room; no one found it heartless, I think. Thom Gunn has a poem in The Man with Night Sweats in which he imagines the dead watching the living on TV, until, after a few episodes, they get bored and feel excluded and begin, at last, ‘weaned from memory’, to join the snowy battalions of the truly ...

Get rid of time and everything’s dancing

Patrick McGuinness: Kray Sisters et al, 5 October 2000

The World's Wife 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Picador, 76 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 9780330372220
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Her Book: Poems 1988-98 
by Jo Shapcott.
Faber, 125 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 571 20183 0
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Zero Gravity 
by Gwyneth Lewis.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £6.95, June 1998, 1 85224 456 9
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... Elvis – but to the men who write about the men, such as Auden (‘The Fall of Icarus’), Thom Gunn (the two ‘Elvis’ poems) or Eliot (‘Tiresias’). Duffy’s Mrs Lazarus, an altogether gentler creature than Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’, muses on her husband’s death and her all too brief new life: The last hair on his head floated out ...

On the Turn

Clive Wilmer, 22 June 2000

Collected Shorter Poems: 1966-96 
by John Peck.
Carcanet, 424 pp., £14.95, April 1999, 1 85754 161 8
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... who followed his advice for some part of their careers is impressive. It includes J.V. Cunningham, Thom Gunn, Donald Davie and Robert Pinsky, all of whom have paid tribute to his teaching. Many of them went further in the direction of Modernism than Winters would have liked. Davie, for example, spent much of his life championing Pound, yet nearly all his ...

Indoor Raincoat

Lavinia Greenlaw: Joy Division, 23 April 2015

So This Is Permanence: Joy Division Lyrics and Notebooks 
by Ian Curtis, edited by Deborah Curtis and Jon Savage.
Faber, 304 pp., £27, October 2014, 978 0 571 30955 9
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... jacket. He took Deborah to hear David Bowie and Lou Reed, and read her Oscar Wilde, Ted Hughes and Thom Gunn. He showed her a ring binder containing sections labelled ‘Lyrics’ and ‘Novel’. ‘I felt privileged that he had trusted me enough to let me see the extent of his ambitions,’ she writes in her introduction. Curtis had no doubt about his ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip, 20 April 2017

Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... inquiry. One organising principle has the authors contrasting two poets per chapter (Byron and Thom Gunn are conjoined, simply by virtue of being poets who shook the dust of England from their shoes) but then the chapters get baggier (the one on Auden cuts to Heaney’s death and back, moves on to an anecdote about Coleridge, and stutters out with ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... Clarke, and pursued implicitly in a number of other essays (particularly on Bunting, Sisson and Gunn) in favour of a poetry that is itself intrusive, disruptive, open to the contingent, willing to state a position and make a case. What Davie admires most is a poetry whose discourse and rhetoric are continuous with discourses and rhetorics beyond the ...

Under the Flight Path

August Kleinzahler: Christopher Middleton, 19 May 2016

... to the towers of Manhattan. He’d sigh audibly each time. He missed his old love, Ann. Even Thom Gunn was enchanted by her. Thom was very rarely, if ever, enchanted by women, and certainly wasn’t enchanted by Christopher. (Nor Christopher by him, and they could not have been more disapproving of each other’s ...


Ian Sansom, 7 March 1996

by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, 121 pp., £7.50, February 1995, 0 393 31203 8
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Tape for the Turn of the Year 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, 205 pp., £8.95, February 1995, 0 393 31204 6
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Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 93 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17431 0
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The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs 
by Charles Simic.
Michigan, 127 pp., £30, January 1996, 0 472 06569 6
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Frightening Toys 
by Charles Simic.
Faber, 101 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17399 3
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The Ghost of Eden 
by Chase Twichell.
Faber, 78 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17434 5
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... review of Helen Vendler’s Harward Book of Contemporary Poetry in the Threepenny Review in 1986, Thom Gunn declared himself utterly unimpressed with what he described as an ‘obviously worthless book’, but went on to compare and favourably contrast Kleinzahler’s first full-length collection Storm over Hackensack (1985) as ‘something ...

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