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In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali


James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying


It’s not why Rimbaud left that mystifies, though this new year
the Place Ducale sports ice rink, carousel, and a waffel-stand
from nearby Belgium. It’s why he kept returning. On ne part pas:
he answered it himself, ‘we never leave.’ After Harar,

he thought his home town was a desert by other means,
and everywhere he walked he walked on sand; sinking
and finding his footing were the same. The sober bateaux-
mouches grazed on absinthe-coloured algae while barges

slid through bilgewater with rooftile cargoes
of Ardennes ardoise: slates bound into sheaves,
books with blackboard pages and all the boats
were floating libraries and all the letters spelled azure

or, after rain, erasure, which soon became its synonym.
Now his name is on every shopfront, from the obvious –
Le Rimbaud bookshop or café-tabac – to the genuinely
promising: the Opticien Rimbaud who tests your eyes

with mirages and rights near-sightedness with prescription
telescopes. ‘Follow in his footsteps,’ the brochure promises,
each one a wingbeat on the air, the muscle of glass under water.
Heel-flash, frayed hem, butt-ends and sand in the turn-ups:

for a moment the boutique dummies are window-dressed
in louse-ridden jackets and half-mast trousers with pockets
flipped out like limp dicks. Le Look Rimbaud!
the violet rays of neon stage-whisper to oblivious night.

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