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A Bronx Childhood

  I return every four or five years to my old neighbourhood and home borough, the Bronx, out of a sense of curiosity and a...

Love and Friendship

  Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934-1995 Edited by Avril Horner and Anne Rowe, Chatto and Windus, 2015, 666pp, £25 (hardback) Letters figure prominently...

My London

  I have lived all over the world, from Kenya and New York to Florence and the Cotswolds, with the romantic traveller’s notion that there...

An Exploding Goldmine

  From Bow to Biennale: Artists of the East London Group, David Buckman, Francis Boutle Publishers, 2012, 382pp, £30 (paperback) When David Buckman’s From Bow to...

Cliché as ‘Responsible speech’: Geoffrey Hill

Geoffrey Hill, who died on 20th June 2016, was a great poet, a major poet. To celebrate him, we have pulled from our archive an essay...

Through the Witch Window

  Soon I’ll be lucent, at your witch window, hand raised ready to knock. There are no lies hidden between my toes; I am true down to the...

Chevening

  This is the real England, I say, so what do you think? It’s a place of trees; of apple, pear, cherry and plum. In the gaps...

Here Because We’re Here (again)

  Poetry of the Second World War: An International Anthology, edited and introduced by Desmond Graham, Vintage, 2011, 320pp., £12.99 (paper­back) When A Beau Goes In When...

Sibelius

  It’s January. A swan’s wing overhead reminds you of his fifth but also of his death, that skein breaking away to circle him as if to announce what...

Pwyll and Rhiannon, from The Mabinogi

  It’s little more than a bump in the land, a footnote in the catalogue of hills, crags and ridges, felt as an ache in the thighs,...

The Shopping Trolley

  The kids fought over pushing it to the top of the hill, to their ‘launch pad’ above the shopping centre carpark. It was a...

An Everyday Story of Hydrography

  ‘No one’s interested so I gave it to Pete the Gardener’. As my grandmother aged, Pete the gardener gained the contents of what would...

Low Altitude

  Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure. --------------------------------------- — Rumi   I fly at a delicately-low altitude You feel it viscerally in your soul ------and your...

Second Sight

  He’s come to see me off. Limps up the platform after me. I lose sight of him while I find my seat opposite the young boy who’ll...

Kintsukuroi

  --The cracked bowl that I mean to repair everyday keeps getting neglected by my secret awe for bone china ----------and its story of unbreaking. --There were happier...

The Real Thing

Derek Hill: A Centenary Exhibition, The Redfern Gallery, London, 9 – 16 May 2016 In 1961 Bryan Robertson, the innovative and dynamic director of the...

The Whales

  Any day now, they will rise again through their cauldron of green bubbles – the gulls lifting off and banking before the black humps of their backs slice...

From a Hotel Lobby

    The Hotel Years, Joseph Roth, translated by Michael Hofmann, Granta, 2016, 288pp, £16.99 (hardback) For Joseph Roth, the twenty years after 1919, until his death...

Lieutenant Schmidt’s Ideal Lady

  The Lady at the Kiev Racecourse A new century not long begun: a young man, unhappily married and between trains, is at a loose end on a...

On St Cecilia’s Day

  Stop listening to that music and hear instead what the dead are saying who were buried on this day seven years or sixteen or, if you insist on entering the...

The Death of the Literary Patron

  During a recent drive-by of the Saatchi Gallery, in Duke of York Square, I found myself pondering the good fortune of such artists as...

Hell is Other Irish People

  The Dirty Dust, Mártín Ó’Cadhain, translated by Alan Titley, Yale Uni­versity Press, 2015, 328pp., £16.99 (hardcover) ‘Unless the clay is in the mouth the singer’s...

The Abstract and the Concrete

  The operas of Pietro Mascagni have enjoyed a revival in recent years at the festivals of Britain and Ireland. Alongside the inevitable productions of...

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