TLM Issue

Difficult Cup

  after Wu Hao’s Duke Cups The china cup is frilled at the rim like tired lace and all over it ceramic tentacles extend to whisper if you drink me that way I’ll poke your eye out, you can’t quite press your fingers here your lips – like walking a mountain ridge at night with [...]

The Invisibility of Beauty

The 56th Biennale di Venezia (various artists and venues until 22 November 2015) Ruskin’s Venice: The Stones Revisited (New Edition), Sarah Quill, Ashgate, 2015, 256pp. £30 (hardback) Death in Venice, Benjamin Britten, Garsington Opera at Wormsley, 23 June 2015 Venice is a city of ceilings and the Scuola Grande dei Carmini in Dorsodoro, deliciously decorated [...]

Van Gogh: Art and Suicide

The peripatetic life of Vincent van Gogh (1853-90), the son of a Dutch Protestant minister, was an endless series of catastrophes. He longed for a wife and child but was rejected by the two women he loved. He pursued a disastrous vocation as minister and missionary among the coal miners of Belgium, was dismissed as [...]

Fading Ad

I hadn’t understood how grief could be desperate praise when the new growth – and the bread-and-butter May and frog-shaped maple leaves and the path through woods that form arches over the tutting memory of cyclists but want to be more than arches – want to be a tunnel leading to bricks, industry, the tracks [...]

Girl in the Blue Pool

  I am years back and full of echoes. Chlorine, urine, raucous cuff of voices on broken surface. A boy on the edge rowdily teeters and you, knees flexed, arms back are on the pulse of your stroke. Suppose it is you, now, in the pink bikini, close to making five hundred metres as the [...]

Gobha nan Glasan/The Locksmith

  Gobha nan Glasan Tha eòlas ann am buth gobha nan glasan air Bread St o Theodore à Samos, o Nineveh, uaithne toinnte Chonnecticut ’s Yale.  Bhithinn nam thàilleabhach ann, m’eanchainn làn boghan ’s bràide, cìre ’s deilge, bloca, amhaich ’s cagain: bhithinn ag aisling air bithis no iuchair cnàimhnich, gach rud meatail ’s mogal [...]

The Canal

We used to live near the canal; not on it, I wouldn’t have cared for that, the water looked so sinister and I have such a horror of the damp.  I knew those houses that backed right on to the water – you could see them from the bridge on Gloucester Avenue – their gardens [...]

The Quest for Meaning

Shadows Waltz Haltingly, Alan Morrison, Lapwing Press, 2015, 84pp, £10 (paperback) The Beautiful Librarians, Sean O’Brien, Picador, 2015, 64pp, £9.99 (paperback) The Observances, Kate Miller, Carcanet, 2015, 88pp, £9.95 (paperback) What is poetry but language searching for language, a circular motion that moves with a momentum of its own? A successful poem is a re-invention [...]

An excerpt from Beyond Elsewhere

  From Beyond Elsewhere by Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, forthcoming from White Pine Press in March 2016, translated from the French by Hélène Cardona   So much lost sky. You dream of being the exception, but are just the rule: the first love empties your bag of marbles to fill it with stars, but this brutal flash [...]


  Creachann Na samhraidhean ud, choisicheadh Dad sinn sios dhan eighre ann an Àrnol: sgrùdamaid sgoid ’s propach ’s canastairean Castrol GTX, a’ lorg portain ’s spitheagan,   tèataran beaga ghainmhich, a’ leantainn àitheantan crùbach ar mac-meanmna. Far a’ chladach, bhiodh faoileagan ’s stearnalan nan ràpal mu chreagan ghuanach an eilean,   ’s an sgarbh [...]

The Kid from Kogarah Grows Up 

Latest Readings, Clive James, Yale University Press, 2015, 192pp, £12.99 (hardcover) When Australian polymath Clive James was diagnosed with terminal leukaemia in 2010, he could have been forgiven for bringing down the curtain on a long and glittering literary career. Instead, his unwanted contract with the Grim Reaper sparked a highly prolific second creative life. [...]

Edmund Spenser’s Pictures

In forrein costes, men sayd, was plenty: And so there is, but all of miserye. I dempt there much to have eeked my store, But such eeking hath made my hart sore. (Diggon Davie, The Shepheardes Calender, Edmund Spenser)   Edmund Spenser’s shepherd told the sixteenth-century Englishman what he already knew. More often than not [...]

Installing Time

One More Time, Cornelia Parker at St Pancras International (until November 2015 ) Train travellers at St Pancras station in London this summer may have noticed that there are now two large clocks hung close to each other at the southern end of the station. One, right at the end, is the beautiful permanent clock, [...]

Becoming Who We Are: Concluding Thoughts

There are great advantages in for once removing ourselves distinctly from our time and letting ourselves be driven far from its shore, back into the ocean of former world views. Looking at the coast from that perspective, we survey for the first time its entire shape, and when we near it again we have the [...]

Growing Up a Flaneur

As a boy I wandered through the streets, stores and parks of my East Bronx neighbourhood avidly noticing everything that I encountered. I took mental notes, but I was too young then to be able to articulate or write about what I experienced. Sometimes I would sit on the hard concrete stands of our local [...]

China’s Swinburne: the Enigma of Shao Xunmei’s Life and Art

In both China and the West, very little has been written on Shao Xunmei. Googling his name leads to a few articles chronicling his affair with the American writer Emily Hahn, while a search on Amazon results in several studies with chapters about him, plus half a dozen other volumes that give him passing references. [...]

My London

Henry Eliot is a writer. Since 2011 he has run the map-magazine Curiocity with Matt Lloyd-Rose, available in bookshops across London and online at, and they are currently creating a book of unusual city maps to be published by Penguin in 2016. This is the 13th article in our regular series “My London”. [...]

The Children of a Demon-Queen

Amidst all the ethnic strife of Sri Lanka, it’s easy to forget that, hidden away in the interior, there remains the country’s aboriginal race. Impoverished, persecuted, and endangered, the Veddahs have often been overlooked. In this extract from his new book, Elephant Complex, author John Gimlette sets out to meet them: What lay ahead was [...]

No Longer Impregnable

When the Facts Change, Essays 1995-2010, Tony Judt, edited and introduced by Jennifer Homans, William Heinemann, 2015, £25 (hardcover) Ours is an age of bullish anti-intellectualism, communal apathy and hostility towards any form of behaviour reversal, or ‘new way’. In this situation, Tony Judt’s voice resounds with eloquence, truthfulness and sanity. Judt was a great writer [...]

Let the Mountain Sing its Own Song

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer Robert Burns, ‘Farewell to the Highlands’ ‘Gone for a song’ aptly summarizes my recent Scottish adventure. I spent the first week in July walking the West Highland Way, Scotland’s first long-distance footpath that runs ninety-six miles from [...]

Love and Judgement

L’Amore dei Tre Re, Italo Montemezzi, Opera Holland Park, July 22nd – August 1st. In early 1939, with the threat of war intensifying, the Italian composer Italo Montemezzi (1875-1952) decided to move his family to America, eventually settling in Beverly Hills. He left behind two houses, one in Milan, the other in Vigasio, near Verona. [...]

Jane Austen, Illustrated

Picturing Jane Austen (1775–1817) has never been easier. With her image set to grace the ten-pound note in 2017, millions will daily confront the face that launched a thousand sequels. The portrait chosen is largely a fantasy, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It is the face we recognize. Cheerfully redrawn long after her death, [...]

Twofold Bay

1930 Then the curved tooth snaps with the tug of rope in Old Tom’s jaw as the Davidson’s whaling boat with its Yuin crew is hauled, freight harpooned. The sharkskin skies have the mind of calamity. A calf, not yet weaned, has been stalked, orphaned, chased from the mouth of the Kiah at Twofold Bay. [...]

Metaphors of a Troubled Mind

Lucky to be an Artist, Unity Spencer, Unicorn Press, 2015, 256 pp. £24 (hardcover) The title Unity Spencer has chosen for her autobiography is ironic, although not intentionally. She may have been lucky to be an artist, but she had the supreme misfortune to be the daughter of a great one. The children of great [...]