Nefertiti in the Flak Tower

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Pan Macmillan, Apr 12, 2012 - Poetry - 85 pages
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Clive James’ power as a poet has increased year by year, and there has been no stronger evidence for this than Nefertiti in the Flak Tower. Here, his polymathic learning and technical virtuosity are worn more lightly than ever; the effect is merely to produce a deep sense of trust into which the reader gratefully sinks, knowing they are in the presence of a master. The most obvious token of that mastery is the book’s breathtaking range of theme: there are moving elegies, a meditation on the later Yeats, a Hollywood Iliad, odes to rare orchids, wartime typewriters and sharks – as well as a poem on the fate of Queen Nefertiti in Nazi Germany. But despite the dizzying variety, James’ poetic intention becomes increasingly clear: what marks this new collection out is his intensified concentration on the individual poem as self-contained universe. Poetry is a practice he compares (in ‘Numismatics’) to striking new coin; and Nefertiti in the Flak Tower is a treasure-chest of one-off marvels, with each poem a twin-sided, perfect human balance of the unashamedly joyous and the deadly serious, ‘whose play of light pays tribute to the dark’. Praise for Angels Over Elsinore: ‘The new poems again apply faultless technique to subject matter that ranges in weight from helium to promethium . . . These poems are dazzling’ Prospect ‘There is a casually rich mix of cultural allusions, but the most important quality is complete clarity’ Independent

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About the author (2012)

Clive James is the author of more than forty books. As well as verse and novels, he has published collections of essays, literary criticism, television criticism and travel writing, plus five volumes of autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs, Falling Towards England, May Week Was in June, North Face of Soho and The Blaze of Obscurity. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia, and in 2003 he was awarded the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature.His other poetry collections include Collected Poems, Angels Over Elsinore and Sentenced to Life.

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