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At the Royal Academy

Anne Wagner: America after the Fall , 4 May 2017

... Inevitably – necessarily – art had a role in answering to destruction so widespread that Wallace Stevens described it in 1937 as a ‘generation’s dream, aviled/in the mud’. What had disappeared was not some past state of innocence: instead the decade of the 1930s produced paintings that showed the very idea of innocence to be a fiction, a ...

Roaming the stations of the world

Patrick McGuinness: Seamus Heaney, 3 January 2002

Electric Light 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.99, March 2001, 0 571 20762 6
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Seamus Heaney in Conversation with Karl Miller 
Between the Lines, 112 pp., £9.50, July 2001, 0 9532841 7 4Show More
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... very shipshapeness’ – setting out to sea. Among its contents we hear Voices too of Frost and Wallace Stevens Off a Caedmon double album, off different shelves. Dylan at full volume, the Bushmills killed. ‘Do Not Go Gentle’. ‘Don’t be going yet.’ Heavy as the gate I hung on once As it swung its arc through air round to the hedge-back, The ...

On Maureen McLane

Ange Mlinko, 10 May 2018

... Moore, an illuminating passage on Wordsworth’s ‘thinking hart’, a goofy anecdote about Wallace Stevens. (Harvard asked her for a yearbook quote; she gave them ‘Let be be finale of seem.’ ‘Well what is that supposed to mean?’ they asked. ‘I didn’t know and I don’t and I was ecstatic’ – fin.) One of the best things about My ...

On Douglas Crase

Matthew Bevis, 5 December 2019

... that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens (Harmonium) and Elizabeth Bishop (North and South).’ The book they were talking about was Douglas Crase’s The Revisionist. Out of print for almost forty years, it has now been reissued (Carcanet, £12.99) in a volume that also includes ...

A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

A Martian sends a postcard home 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 46 pp., £2.95
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by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 50 pp., £2.75
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by Hugo Williams.
Whizzard Press/Deutsch, 40 pp., £2.95
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A Faust Book 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.25, September 1979, 0 19 211895 1
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by Yehuda Amichai.
Oxford, 88 pp., £3.50
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... to Toulouse-Lautrec. So far as poetry is concerned, I guess that one influence would be the Wallace Stevens of ‘Sunday Morning’: the book certainly has a Sunday morning feeling to it, like a late breakfast consumed at leisure. Here are bright colours and bold designs, as if a lesson has been learned (as indeed the Post-Impressionists did ...


John Redmond, 28 November 1996

Expanded Universes 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 55 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571179244
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... to contend with mountainous piggybacks on their humps ... Early on, Reid described his reading of Wallace Stevens as ‘a marvellous secret find’ and he shares with the American a worldliness that comes out of a book – the poems comprising a sort of introvert’s gazetteer. Many begin with the kind of verbless descriptive clause ‘Cigar-box ...

O Harashbery!

C.K. Stead, 23 April 1992

The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara 
edited by Donald Allen.
Carcanet, 233 pp., £18.95, October 1991, 0 85635 939 4
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Flow Chart 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 213 pp., £16.95, September 1991, 0 85635 947 5
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... of contemporary American poetry. It’s true he is somewhere down a track that leads off from Wallace Stevens: but Stevens can’t be held responsible for the distance Ashbery travels. O’Hara, who began where Ashbery began, showed that theirs was a point of departure which could lead into the thick of time and ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann, 7 July 1994

Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... substantial bulk’; ‘the parsimonious connoisseur had discovered the necessity of eloquence’ (Stevens). All this is evidence of Hamilton’s fascination at the road not taken; here is someone (inaudibly, to most readers), crying: ‘Hold! Enough!’ Not only are Hamilton’s pursuits scrupulously separated off, and kept away from his own poetry (and his ...
Selected Poems 
by James Merrill.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £9.95, April 1996, 1 85754 228 2
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... not in the beguiling fashion of the far better known John Ashbery, who combines the exaltation of Wallace Stevens with the shrugging insouciance of Frank O’Hara in order to come up with poems as expressive and as inscrutable as Reverdy’s. If Merrill was experimental, then it was in the way Bach played with harmonics and textual interpretation in a ...

Paradise Lost

Nicholas Everett, 11 July 1991

by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 325 pp., £17.50, September 1990, 0 571 16070 0
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Collected Poems 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 456 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 7011 3713 4
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The Mail from Anywhere 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, September 1990, 0 19 282779 0
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An Elegy for the Galosherman: New and Selected Poems 
by Matt Simpson.
Bloodaxe, 128 pp., £6.95, October 1990, 1 85224 103 9
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... the process by avoiding paraphrasable meaning altogether. One need only point to the work of Wallace Stevens or John Ashbery to show how successfully some of it sustains our expectations while ultimately refusing to deliver the semantic goods. Having extracted a poem’s point, runs the usual defence of such teasing evasions, readers will have no ...

In Flesh-Coloured Silk

Seamus Perry: Romanticism, 4 December 2003

Metaromanticism: Aesthetics, Literature, Theory 
by Paul Hamilton.
Chicago, 316 pp., £17.50, August 2003, 0 226 31480 4
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... in his title, ‘My Crow’ (other Carver poems are called ‘My Boat’ and ‘My Work’). As Wallace Stevens put it in ‘The Plain Sense of Things’, ‘the absence of the imagination had/Itself to be imagined.’ Carver’s deft, paradoxical allegory joins a distinguished tradition of Romantic birds, at once their author’s property yet elusive ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood, 19 May 1983

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 434 83076 3
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Pink Triangle and Yellow Star and Other Essays 1976-1982 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 278 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 434 83075 5
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... into her ear ... ’ The fictiveness of the real is a favourite theme with Americans, from Wallace Stevens to Harold Robbins. They are afraid they live in a world they have made up, and made up badly, so that a soap opera, for example, may be seen not as an escape but as a secret verdict, a last metaphor for a bungled invention. Vidal knows this ...

Absent Authors

John Lanchester, 15 October 1987

Criticism in Society 
by Imre Salusinszky.
Methuen, 244 pp., £15, May 1987, 0 416 92270 8
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by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 104 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 233 98020 2
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... were conducted in the year from April 1985; the interviewees were asked to discuss a poem (Wallace Stevens’s ‘Not Ideas about the Thing but the Thing Itself’) and were shown transcripts of the preceding interviews – devices intended to help ‘make this a book of interviews, rather than simply a set of interviews thrown together as a ...


Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... writer represented here: the Library has significant Modernist holdings (Joyce, Yeats, Wallace Stevens – none of whom Amis had much time for), as well as extensive collections of Stevenson and Jack London, the latter represented by 131,000 items. It has also purchased the archive of the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, Amis’s second ...


Mark Ford: Love and Theft, 2 December 2004

... LRB (5 August). The idea for the poem came from a comment in an excellent book by Tony Sharpe on Wallace Stevens, in which he speculates on the flocks of pigeons mentioned in the last lines of ‘Sunday Morning’: And, in the isolation of the sky, At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make Ambiguous undulations as they sink, Downward to darkness, on ...

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