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An Interview with Fiona Sampson

Fiona Sampson MBE is a poet and writer, published in thirty-seven languages, who has received international prizes in the US, India, Macedonia and Bosnia. A Fellow and Council member of the Royal Society of Literature, she’s published twenty-seven books, received the Newdigate Prize, a Cholmondeley Award, Hawthornden Fellowship and numerous awards from the Arts Councils of England and Wales,...

Acrostic by Sudeep Sen

(R.I.P. Derek Walcott: January 23, 1930 – March 17, 2017) Deep seas of yesteryears wash new froth on your home shores. Egrets, sea gulls, circle the ruddy skies waiting for perfect thermals to Rise — ripe air-currents — wingspans larger than civilizational memory. East tries to meet West, North tries to meet South, Poles magnetize in a Kaleidoscopic churning — saturating the sea-sky’s azure,...

Malraux, Camus and the Nobel Prize

André Malraux (1901-76) was born in a bourgeois quarter of Paris, Albert Camus (1913-60) in a working-class district in the provincial Algerian town of Oran. Despite their different backgrounds they had significant emotional, intellectual and aesthetic affinities. Camus’s father was killed on the Marne in October 1914; Malraux’s father committed suicide in December 1930. Camus begins The Myth of...

My London

Venetia Welby is the author of Mother of Darkness, published by Quartet Books, February 2017. This is the twenty-first article in our regular series of “My London”. The streets of Soho teem with the ghosts of its past. Here Dylan Thomas staggers out of the French House leaving his manuscript of Under Milk Wood under a chair; here Francis Bacon...

The Past Beneath Our Feet

September in the Rain by Peter Robinson, Holland House, September 2016, 280pp, £11.99 (paperback) Collected Poems by Peter Robinson, Shearsman Books, February 2017, 518pp, £19.95 (paperback) Roy Fisher has noted how unusual it is in English poetry nowadays ‘to find a writer of Peter Robinson’s sophistication occupying himself with what appears, at least, to be autobiography’. Fisher warns us of the...

Lenses from Somewhere: A Memory of Ted Hughes

After I reviewed Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being for the TLS, Ted Hughes wrote to me. He was very wounded by the reception of the book, which had been harsh and often sneering. In the letter, he imagined himself caught in the malignant circuitry of Measure for Measure: I knew that our academic friends would leap into the...

Short Story Competition | Prize-Giving Ceremony

On Tuesday 28th March 2016 The London Magazine awarded the winners of the Short Story Competition 2016 during a drinks reception on the House of Commons Terrace. The prizes were presented by the guest of honour, Stanley Johnson, who praised the pleasantly unique and vastly contrasting stories. Judge Erica Wagner was also in attendance. We would like to thank all applicants to the Short Story Competition...

Pigeons by Kate Bingham

I It’s just the same old air a person breathes, roughly the same respiratory system, steady compared with ours, the same idea of hindrance (flesh the breath must travel through, a bottleneck or valve evolved to please, an oscillating muscle mechanism) amplified and at a pitch so nearly human I, also, love the coo of doves and wood-pigeons – even these poor greasy rats-with-wings stop me to listen, courting in...

We Are The Cenotaphs by Aaron Fagan

Over a cup of Marco Polo And a bowl of bird's nest soup, Listening to the world as a whole Through the particular, I laugh Into the telephone trying to record The room tone on the other end And saw a stellar aberration of light Transfigured by love trundling love In to show there’s no cheapening The awe I feel for the ape who Quietly blazed with attraction As she...

Competence by Anna Kahn

There is nothing in this room for those who have not learned to sing without thinking, who don’t know where the music fits in their bodies, how to smash it open and live it without tearing the neighbouring muscles. We have nothing for those startled by their own tone, who can’t feel it before they breathe in. We stand in a circle, the only audience a sparrow...

Britannic Myths launch at Shapero Rare Books

On the evening of 16th March, The London Magazine's editor, Steven O'Brien, launched his most recent book, Britannic Myths at Shapero Rare Books. Published by Theme Artefact, Britannic Myths is a collaboration in prose and painting between Mythographer Steven O'Brien and Stuckist artist Joe Machine, who together have delved into the mythic matter of Britain and Ireland. Marina Warner writes of Britannic...

America after the Fall at Royal Academy of Arts

Organised by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and the London Royal Academy of Arts, 'America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s' is to be housed by the Royal Academy of Arts from 25 February to 4 June. Although the 45 works on display are marketed as iconic, this is thankfully not entirely true, allowing...

Poetry Prize 2017

The London Magazine has been home to some of the most prestigious poets in its long publishing history, from John Keats to Sylvia Plath. Our annual Poetry Prize seeks out new voices in poetry, providing a platform for publication in the UK’s oldest literary journal. All poems submitted must be previously unpublished and no longer than 40 lines. We have no criteria...

Transcending Boundaries by teamLab at Pace London

Touch coral reefs, and they will die. It doesn’t feel outlandish to suggest an oblique parable in the fact that one of the world’s greatest wonders is also one of its most fragile. Layer upon layer of calcium carbonates form skeletons secreted by polyps that weave themselves over their intricate intestines, joining together with thousands of their brothers and...

Vanessa Bell at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

How much context do we need to appreciate a painting? Take, for example, Vanessa Bell’s Studland Beach, 1912. We might describe it in terms of its diagonal division: a mauve-blue mass floats above; a blanched beige sits below. Two outlying forms disrupt this simple division: a rectangle of creamy-white voyages out into the upper blue region (and, in turn,...

Book and Kitchen: An Evening of Drinks and Poetry

On 28th February, The London Magazine hosted an evening of drinks and poetry at Book and Kitchen, Notting Hill. There were readings from several of our contributors, including the following: Stanley Moss, a critically acclaimed American author and poet. Moss founded Sheep Meadow Press, a non-profit press devoted to poetry and on international poets in translation. Angela Kirby grew up in rural Lancashire, but...

Woolf Works at the Royal Opera House

On the night of its seventeenth performance, Woolf Works opens with sounds of London; Big Ben, the distant rumbling of cars, all of which weave together to form a soundtrack of Mrs Dalloway’s post-war London. A recording of Virginia Woolf herself plays over the city’s sounds: ‘Words, English words are full of echoes, memories, associations - naturally. They’ve been...

David Hockney at Tate Britain

Visiting a gallery in London during the February half term is a rookie error. In a bid to occupy restless children, and driven inside by the drizzle, the families of London descend on its cultural delights. Most are free, accessible by tube, and educational; those who dare to enter will be faced with overexcited kids shouting over distressed parents,...

Hair by Sam McKnight at Somerset House

Follow lipstick red arrows pasted on the floor of Somerset House round winding steps down the rabbit hole, and you will emerge in the world of Sam McKnight’s ‘Hair’. The exhibition’s first piece is a styled wig, disembodied and backlit, hanging in a glass case. The piece has no accompanying caption or explanation; the hair is expected to speak...

Poetry and the Public by Paul Gittins

The prestigious T.S. Eliot Award in January that kicked off the poetry establishment’s crowded calendar of poetry competitions served to highlight the ever widening gap between the poetry featured in the competitions and the poetry reading public.  Any doubt on this matter can be dispelled by figures from The Bookseller.  They show that the small publishers who specialize in...

Stranger, Baby by Emily Berry

Freud is dangerous territory for poets. He did more than just make his mark on the literature of the twentieth century: he cross-hatched it. Psychoanalysis might have been discredited as a way of understanding the mind, but it still permeates the world of words. Freud’s hold on literature is so extensive that even the phrase describing the author’s fear...

Bright Celestial Objects by Rebecca Goss

After Alison Watt, ‘Venus’ (2015) Their backs against the grass, she felt a pull, as if the leaves on the trees were lodestones, the hairs on her skin rising at once. They reached for each other’s fingers, succumbing to the lift that took them above crowns of oak, all the way to the cumulus. How lost they got, inside the billow, reaching through white - their arms slippery with moisture. Then...

Seamus Heaney and Jan Hendrix: A Shared Landscape of Inspiration

The long friendship and collaboration between Seamus Heaney and Jan Hendrix has been hitherto a little known story and began on paper and in inspiration many years before they first met in person. When the late Nobel prize-winning Irish poet and the Dutch-born artist and architect finally met backstage at the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam in 1993 it was,...

Madness by Patrick Cash

There’s a stream by the Avon ward Where I stand to watch the water flow And unwind the whirlpools of my mind When it’s dark I let its rhythms Strum me to an unquiet peace Away from the shouts and rips The banging on locked doors By day I watch the water flow I think about your beauty’s mind Because to me you seem fine Though they tell me...