TLM Issue

Independent Metaphysics

  All in One Breath, John Burnside, Jonathan Cape, 2014, 96pp, £10 (paperback) Terror, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Faber, 2014, 80pp, £9.99 (paperback) There is a new vitality in the current Scottish literary scene. The feeling is not of revival but rather of seeking for new pathways. Here, in a veteran and an ingénue, [...]

Nasty, Brutish and Short

  The Dead Zoo, Ciaran Berry, The Gallery Press, 2013, 90pp, £10.50 (paperback) Echo’s Grove: Collected Translations, Derek Mahon, The Gallery Press, 2013, 208pp, £12 (paperback) The Spanish-Italian Border, Róisín Tierney, Arc Publications, 2014, 77pp, £8.99 (paperback) Ciaran Berry’s second collection, The Dead Zoo, provides erudite poems that involve rather than bore or bamboozle their [...]

Peter Pan Meets Elvis

  I Knew the Bride, Hugo Williams, Faber, 2014, 65pp, £12.99 (hardback) Hugo Williams has been called many things in a poetic career stretching back half a century. For the late William Scammell, he was ‘the Bryan Ferry of English poetry … Thom Gunn meets Emily Dickinson … Noel Coward with a dash of Elvis.’ [...]

Curious Insulations

  The Hotel Oneira, August Kleinzahler, Faber, 2013, 96pp, £12.99, (hardback) Nice Weather, Frederick Seidel, Faber, 2013, 112pp, £14.99, (hardback) Britain and Ireland are relatively well-served when it comes to contemporary American poetry. Carcanet Press have secured the experimental women poets Jorie Graham and Louise Gluck prominently amongst their list; moreover, they seem determined to [...]

Plath’s Rapist

I The rape of Sylvia Plath was the third traumatic event in her short life. Her father had died in November 1940 when she was eight years old. In August 1953, when an undergraduate at Smith College, she had attempted suicide at her home in Wellesley. In July 1954, after completing her junior year, she [...]

A Child of World War I

  If World War I had never happened, I wouldn’t be here. My father, John Dudley Lucie-Smith, met my mother, Mary Frances Maud Chippindall Lushington, when he came from the British colony of Jamaica to fight as a volunteer in the conflict. Without this great upheaval, their paths, pretty certainly, would never have crossed. What [...]

A Liberal Flirtation: Edmund Wilson & Sir Isaiah Berlin

Isaiah Berlin affected me like nobody else I had known; though he was not particularly handsome, I tended to react to him a little as if he were an attractive woman whom I wanted to amuse and please, and this attitude on my part evoked a kind of coquetry on his. (Edmund Wilson in conversation [...]

My London: The Serpentine and The Sinuous

  This is the sixth of our series in which writers say what London has meant to them. Holly Luhning is a Canadian poet and novelist. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey. Prior to this she was a Leverhulme Visiting Research Fellow at University College Chichester. Canadian writer Aritha [...]

William Blake and the Forging of the Creative Self

William Blake and the Forging of the Self

Did Shakespeare Visit Italy?

  Did Shakespeare visit Italy? Most scholars insist that the author, despite setting a third of his plays in the country, did not travel there. The most commonly cited proof is that he transformed the inland cities of Milan and Verona into ports. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Valentine travels from Verona to Milan [...]

T. S. Eliot and La Figlia Che Piange

  Today’s younger readers approaching T. S. Eliot’s poetry for the first time are faced with two alternatives. They can either accept its monolithic reputation and prestige on face value, and examine it from that preconditioned state, or they can ignore orthodoxy and, without supposition, read the poetry for what it is. If, as is [...]

On Re-reading Leon Garfield

Suzi Feay revisits a favourite childhood read

The Estuary

  A water where the ebb-wave, flood-born is flood-broken yet the wave wavers and transports me through the river’s dam into the sea. A flood-broken ebb-wave where the slime sucked below the swell, oozes the surface light into its dun density, an ochre silt mass lulled by the wave’s gliding gait. A water whose slime [...]

The Moment Before Touch

  The air grows still. As in an illustrated weekly I leaf through your eyes. To hear silence as it walks in new shoes and lulls the buzzing bees. Somebody furiously addresses us with wings. It’s said that you’ve seen burning birds tumble from the sky! It’s just at the base of your breasts there’s [...]

What If

  If he truly believed in angels they would appear, I said in a dream (of whom I spoke I can’t recall) Then I remember disintegrating into hot tears as I realized that I also spoke of myself And in that wild, greedy moment I challenged an angel to appear as I cowered in a [...]


  Azzan is sounding in alleyways tonight resounding through crooked streets and empty fields of sand tonight picking the lock, stepping inside climbing the staircase tonight listening outside my bedroom. The door creaks open tonight azzan walks softly to the window looks down over date palms tonight soaking their feet in the fala’az lying beneath [...]

A Question of Desire

  A long time ago when I was young and when much of the world was still coloured red on the map, I chose to join the British Colonial Police Service. Today, for many people, the whole concept of empire is redolent of theft and exploitation. I will say only that it did not seem [...]

Downstream the Water Darkens

  There are only a few days before we have to go home. Summer is nearly over. A flash of brilliant blue and green that came and went, like the dragonflies near the water’s edge. Kristin and I are on the riverbank at the furthest corner of the farm. The fields end at a wall [...]

Here Because We’re Here

  The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War, Margaret MacMillan, Profile Books, 2013, 699pp, £25 (hardback) No Man’s Land: Writings from a World at War, Pete Ayrton, editor, Serpent’s Tail, 2014, 551pp, £25 (hardback) ‘Next come the Fab Four, the Moptop Mersey Marvels, and this is the bit [...]

How to Open an Art Gallery

The Lovely Gallery in Sydenham

Helen Thomas visits Ivor Gurney in the City of London Mental Asylum 1932

  i Dear Ivor, no wonder you are elsewhere Than here, the park outside a parody Of your rolling Cotswold hills, its benches Scratched by jingles, at odds with your poetry. Not a hint of a wild orchid, spiked rampion In its flowerbeds, its fountains spat out By stone cherubs hardly reminiscent Of the waterfalls [...]

The Nest

  A dark world, of stench and cramp, of scramble, up in the acute angle of the gable wall, the jutting roof in its occlusion dumping dark on dark; and then the beaks, yellow and livid and big almost as the bone-fluff bodies, the blind struggling for space, the crush and yawp for insects to [...]