Fake News

Scandinavian folklore has made us familiar with a particular form of monster. Unlike the beast-humans in Grimm or classical mythology, a troll can scarcely be distinguished in appearance from an …

Free running

A student at the Poetry School (whose day job is as a magazine journalist) recently remarked to me that her interest in poetry came from it being a form of …

A new empathy

In Poésie et photographie – perhaps his last major essay before his death in July this year – Yves Bonnefoy turned to explore ‘the impact of the first photographs on …

Pointing the way

In considering some of the challenges of teaching a poetry course to undergraduates, the American poet Robert Hass calls to mind a haiku by the nineteenth century poet Kobayashi Issa: …

Yes, I can

In the fearful years of the Yezhov terror I spent seventeen months in prison queues in Leningrad. One day somebody ‘identified’ me. Beside me, in the queue there was a …

What is Poetry?

‘… I am a dictation, pronounces poetry, learn me by heart, copy me down, guard and keep me, look out for me, look at me, dictated dictation, right before your …

Non-Poetry at Poetry London

Six years ago a leading poetry publisher asked me if any of the editors ‘owned’ Poetry London. At the time I was taken aback by the question, which felt somehow intrusive …

Deaths and Entrances

Along with its wider mood of remembrance, 2014 offered the opportunity to reconsider the work of two poets, born days apart a hundred years earlier. My parents had grown up …

Implements in their places

‘This is where we knelt on walnut leaves in the town of the word’, writes Carolyn Forché in On the Island of Theologos, the last of five extraordinary poems by Forché that …

The quick and the dead

Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Beginning of Spring is set at that moment in Moscow when the change of seasons is marked by a quickening sense of liquefying movement: the melting of …

The Odd Couple

The most unexpected, and as it turned out inspiring, book I read last year was Airmail (Bloodaxe, 2013), a collection of letters between the American poet Robert Bly and the Swedish Nobel …

Instruments of the imagination

In a recent feature in the FT, a journalist quotes the painter Frank Auerbach as saying ‘some people are natural draughtsmen. I sometimes feel sorry for them – you have
to work through …

Poetry London says farewell to Colette Bryce

In a recent collection of essays Al Alvarez (adept at poker and extreme sport, and advocate in 1966 of new American poets ‘Beyond the Gentility Principle’) describes the writer alone …

Poetry Matters

Poetry London started life back in 1988 as Poetry London Newsletter, produced with the aid of an Amstrad PCW and intermittent access to a photocopier. It was a project born of enthusiasm …

The Willow Pattern

Observe my delicate Koong-see, whey-faced beside the lattice fence and warming in her palm my gift of an ivory bead.   In the palace garden’s midnight blue the apple tree …

What are poets for?

‘Who wants poets in lean years?’ That was how Michael Hamburger translated the phrase ‘wozu Dichter in dürftiger Zeit?’, from Hölderlin’s poem ‘Bread and Wine’. ‘What are poets for in …

Competition 2012: Judge’s Report – Neil Astley

The process of judging a poetry competition can feel like a bombardment: hundreds of poems all clamouring for attention, almost crying out Choose me! I’m the poem you want! It’s something of …