The Blog


POETRY IN LOCKDOWN:4

Here is another Japanese poem from the same anthology as no. 3, but a very different proposition. While Shuntaro's Travel 1 is relatively simple and direct, this one by Anzai Hitoshi looks at first sight head-scratchingly oblique. I like the idea of [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 3

Late 20th and 21st century Japanese culture is known only in glimpses in Europe. There is awareness of what manga is, and some public interest in novels by Mishima or Murakami, art by Yoko Ono or Yayoi Kusama, the films of  Osu and Kurasawa. Japanese [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN: 2

Is Covid-19 sending the world mad? Are we crawling up the walls & holding family cat-fights? Isolation can be better than this, as the American poet Wallace Stevens wants to persuade you in this poem. The writer is alone with his book. The world [...]

POETRY IN LOCKDOWN

The whole world is on lockdown. What do we read? Plenty of people are posting their suggestions for good reading in difficult times. I'll be making a few contributions to the discussion over the coming weeks. THE EAR by Louis MacNeice In 1938 th [...]

Bits of Byzantium

As a schoolboy I was obsessed with the Byzantine Empire, and its astounding capital city of Constantinople. I loved the poems by W.B. Yeats in which the artefacts of Byzantium were celebrated. Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,More miracle than bird [...]

William Blake: Failing Better

“You may smile at me calling another Poet a Mystic”, replied Samuel Taylor Coleridge having been sent a copy of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, “but verily I am in the very mire of common-place common-sense compared with Mr Blake.” Even the relat [...]

ART AND GRAFFITI

The current exhibition at Tate Liverpool by the New York artist Keith Haring, whose fame rested on his early career as a street or graffiti artist, reminds me of an article I wrote a decade ago – God, is it really ten years? – about a show at Fondati [...]

EVELYN DUNBAR AND THE WOMEN'S LAND ARMY

EVELYN DUNBAR AND THE WOMEN’S LAND ARMY   A LAND GIRL AND THE BAIL BULL 1945 This is a painting that always used to make me pause if I passed through the gallery in Tate Britain where it hangs – even though I knew nothing at all about its painter [...]

Wicked Simplicity

WICKED SIMPLICITY: the Supermarine Spitfire. In October 2006 I reviewed a new "biography" of the Spitfire, written by the art critic Jonathan Glancey. Mk IIa P7350, the last Battle of Britain veteran still flying. I spent many a short-trousered [...]

ACCRINGTON: A THUMBNAIL SKETCH

Today my latest Cragg and Fidelis story Rough Music is published in the United States. The fact that it is also April Fool’s Day must be coincidental. This new novel is narrated, as ever, by Titus Cragg my conscientious coroner of Lancashire, and is [...]
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