Poetry

Songs of the blood and the sword

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Jihadi Culture might sound like a joke title for a book, like ‘Great Belgians’ or ‘Canadian excitements’. But in this…

How pleasant to know Mr Lear

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Edward Lear liked to tell the story of how he was once sitting in a railway carriage with two women…

Who is Sylvia – what is she?

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In May 1956, three months after meeting Ted Hughes, one before they will marry, Sylvia Plath writes to her mother…

A kind of posthumous existence: a death mask of Keats, sold at auction for £16,100 in 1996

A beautiful place to die: Italy and the Romantic poets

28 May 2016 9:00 am

People can be mightily protective of their Romantic poets. When I worked at the Keats Shelley House, overlooking the Spanish…

BBC4’s Bob Geldof on WB Yeats was one of the best literary documentaries I’ve seen

9 April 2016 9:00 am

In recent years there’s been a fashion for arts documentaries presented by celebs rather than boring old experts — presumably…

What I’ve learned reciting poems in the street

2 April 2016 9:00 am

It was past midnight in Norwich. There was a keen wind rifling up London Street. It was dark and it…

‘The upper part of the cascade at Hafod’ by John ‘Warwick’ Smith, 1793

How to view the view

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Landskipping is about viewing the view, from the 18th century to the present. From the title (which is the only…

An otter’s metabolism is so high that you’d have to eat 88 Big Macs a day to match it

Charles Foster: ‘I need to be more of a badger’

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Being a Beast is an impassioned and proselytising work of philosophy based on a spectacular approach to nature writing. That…

The confessions of Gerard Manley Hopkins

9 January 2016 9:00 am

‘I am 12 miles from a lemon,’ lamented that bon vivant clergyman Sydney Smith on reaching one country posting. He…

How pop is Peter Blake?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Painters and sculptors are highly averse to being labelled. So much so that it seems fairly certain that, if asked,…

Rex Whistler: ‘a desolate sense of loneliness amidst so much fun’

14 November 2015 9:00 am

When Hugh and Mirabel Cecil’s book In Search of Rex Whistler was published in 2012, the late Brian Sewell reviewed…

National Poetry Day's mistake: letting normal people do the reading

17 October 2015 8:00 am

Imagine what Brennig Davies must have felt like just before 11 o’clock last Tuesday evening. The 15-year-old was about to…

Hughes in 1986: Bate simply fails to make the case his book stands on – that the poet was a sadist

An unauthorised, and unconvincing, biography of Ted Hughes

3 October 2015 8:00 am

In Testaments Betrayed, Milan Kundera says: ‘Biographers know nothing about the intimate sex lives of their own wives, but they…

‘Capel-y-ffin’, 1926–7 (watercolour and gouache)

David Jones: painter, poet and mystic

26 September 2015 8:00 am

David Jones (1895–1974) was a remarkable figure: artist and poet, he was a great original in both disciplines. His was…

‘Night in Marrakesh’, 1968, by Brion Gysin

Cut-ups, hallucinations and Hermann Goering: the extraordinary life of Brion Gysin

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Among my more bohemian friends in 1980s London, Brion Gysin was a name spoken with a certain awe. He was…

Late Night Woman’s Hour assumes that all women think about is dating, desire and drinking

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Late Night Woman’s Hour has created a Twitter storm with its twice-weekly (Thursdays and Fridays) doses of ‘mischievous and unbridled…

‘Doorways to the unknown’: Clive James’s Latest Readings

22 August 2015 9:00 am

In the preface to his great collection of essays The Dyer’s Hand, W.H. Auden claimed: ‘I prefer a critic’s notebooks…

Jonathan Galassi’s fictional poet made me doubt my knowledge of American literature

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Jonathan Galassi is an American publisher, poet and translator. In his debut novel Muse, his passion for the ‘good old…

‘Thetis giving Achilles his arms’ (fresco), Giulio Romano, 1492–1546

A new translation of the Iliad

8 August 2015 9:00 am

‘Why do another translation of Homer?’ Richmond Lattimore asked in the foreword to his own great translation of the Iliad…

Helen Vendler is full of condescending waffle (and not just when she’s attacking me)

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Is it possible to tell a good poem from a bad one? To put the question another way: are there…

Edward Thomas: the prolific hack (who wrote a book review every three days for 14 years) turned to poetry just in time

23 May 2015 9:00 am

Edward Thomas was gloomy as Eeyore. In 1906 he complained to a friend that his writing ‘was suffering more &…

This radio programme almost made me like Piers Morgan

9 May 2015 9:00 am

An extraordinary black-and-white photograph of a young black boy taken on the Isle of Wight by Julia Margaret Cameron in…

What’s On in South Devon gave me three choices: functioning psychotic preacher, bingo or a poetry evening

25 April 2015 9:00 am

I’m such a constitutional lightweight lately that I’ve started looking on the website What’s On in South Devon for things…

There’s nothing wrong with getting into Thomas Tallis on the back of Fifty Shades of Grey

28 February 2015 9:00 am

Great works of art may have a strange afterlife. Deracinated from the world that created them they are at the…

The Shading Out of Poetry by Deadline

7 February 2015 9:00 am

Like old-time washerwomen floodwater is sousing trees and shrubs out on the drainage. Floating wrack dribbles seaward from their labour.…