Clive James is never po-faced about poetry. He writes with the buoyant, aphoristic panache that made his career and with a judgment refined by a lifetime of reading and thinking about poetry – and writing it (he has a new collection coming out this April). This sympathetic, absorbing and provocative book is a miscellany – most of its articles written for Chicago’s Poetry magazine. But there are unifying thoughts. One is that “poetry” is not what excites him – too baggy a word and covering a multitude of sins – it is the particular poem that matters, the hardest thing to write. He argues that we are living in a time when “almost everyone writes poetry but scarcely anyone can write a poem”. He is on the side of clarity (he hopes it is “forgivable to favour those poets who show signs of knowing what they are saying”) while noting how complicated simplicity can be.
Read the complete review (this blog posting suggested by Graeme Hughes)