Poetry

Sun, sex and acid: Thom Gunn in California

1 May 2021 9:00 am

San Francisco is a fantastic place… it’s terribly sunny… I am having a splendid hedonistic time here… I find myself…

My clairvoyant GP

1 May 2021 9:00 am

‘Willie or bum?’ I said to Catriona on the motorway. Everything in my recent medical career has been introduced via…

Two of a kind: Monica Jones proved Philip Larkin’s equal for racism and misogyny

24 April 2021 9:00 am

Monica Jones certainly proved Philip Larkin’s equal for racism and misogyny, says Andrew Motion

My favourite failed podcasts

27 March 2021 9:00 am

The promise of the internet was supposed to be thus: you could be your own bizarre, inappropriate self, and you…

Rescuing Elizabeth Barrett Browning from her wax-doll image

30 January 2021 9:00 am

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an ambitious, passionate, determined woman – not the sad-eyed invalid of legend, says Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Alfred Brendel the Dadaist

16 January 2021 9:00 am

How many people are celebrating the fact that, last week, one of Europe’s most inspired writers about music, modern art…

My fateful appearance at the Bank of England’s Christmas drinks

19 December 2020 9:00 am

Tidings of comfort as the vaccination programme advances, but shortage of joy. That’s my summary of a season in which…

Churches are more Covid-secure than trains or takeaways

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Monday night’s murderous gunman in Vienna is officially described as ‘Islamist’. Brahim Aioussaoi, the man accused of murdering worshippers in…

A beautiful radio adaptation: Radio 4’s The Housing Lark reviewed

17 October 2020 9:00 am

Nineteen fifty-six: the Suez crisis, the first Tesco, Jim Laker takes 19 wickets in a match. But also: Trinidadian pianist…

The death of the Southbank Centre

5 September 2020 9:00 am

The roots of the Southbank Centre’s current crisis stretch back to before the pandemic, says Oliver Basciano

Why poetry matters

8 August 2020 9:00 am

Juan Carlos, ex-King of Spain, behaved foolishly in relation to money and sex, and so his decision to leave Spain…

To understand the past, you need to inhabit it for a while

4 July 2020 9:00 am

‘It’s no go my honey love, it’s no go my poppet; Work your hands from day to day, the winds…

From blue to pink: Looking for Eliza, by Leaf Arbuthnot, reviewed

16 May 2020 9:00 am

On the way back from my daily dawn march in the park, I often pass my neighbour, a distinguished gentleman…

From Middlemarch to Mickey Mouse: a short history of The Spectator’s books and arts pages

24 April 2020 11:00 pm

The Spectator arts and books pages have spent 10,000 issues identifying the dominant cultural phenomena of the day and being difficult about them, says Richard Bratby

The best Christmas gift you can give yourself is to learn some poetry by heart

21 December 2019 9:00 am

Every Christmas I find I am living in the past. I blame my father. He was born in 1910 —…

Remembering the genius of Clive James

7 December 2019 9:00 am

‘Clive James Stirs.’ That was the standard subject line for the emails I used to get from the great Australian…

‘Instapoetry’ may be popular, but most of it is terrible

23 November 2019 9:00 am

Poetry is on a hot streak. Last year, sales in the UK topped £12 million for the first time —…

The many faces of William ‘Slasher’ Blake

14 September 2019 9:00 am

‘Imagination is my world.’ So wrote William Blake. His was a world of ‘historical inventions’. Nelson and Lucifer, Pitt and…

The joys of Radio 4’s Word of Mouth

31 August 2019 9:00 am

I first heard Lemn Sissay talking about his childhood experiences on Radio 4 in 2009. At that time he was…

Haunting and hallucinatory: hospital poems from Hugo Williams

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Hugo Williams’s wryly candid reports from the front lines of sex and family life are a perennial delight. Often timeless,…

Up close and personal with Thomas Hardy

22 June 2019 9:00 am

I walked in out of the rain, dripping, and sat down beside the fire on the primitive high-backed settle. ‘Is…

The retiring Brian Bilston.

The great anti-hero of our time: Diary of a Somebody, by Brian Bilston, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Brian Bilston’s life is summed up perfectly by the incident with his neighbour’s dog. The annoying Mrs McNulty comes round…

Pam Tanowitz’s Four Quartets is a revelation

1 June 2019 9:00 am

T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets is full of music and movement. The players, such as they are, slip, slide, shake, tumble,…

Geoffrey Hill. Credit: Peter Everard Smith

Last lines on Brexit from Geoffrey Hill

25 May 2019 9:00 am

In 2012 OUP published Geoffrey Hill’s Collected Poems; they could have waited, because they’re now going to need another edition.…

Letitia at the height of her fame in 1825. H.W. Pickersgill’s original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy

The celebrated poet who’s been erased from English literature

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Biographers are a shady lot. For all their claims about immortalising someone in print, as if their ink were a…