Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language

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Liveright Publishing Company, a division of W. W. Norton, 2015 - Literary Criticism - 238 pages
2 Reviews

Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-beloved cultural voices. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for him, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of his lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he's learned about the art form that matters to him most.

With his customary wit, delightfully lucid prose style and wide-ranging knowledge, Clive James explains the difference between the innocuous stuff so prevalent today and a real poem: the latter being a work of unity that insists on being heard entire and threatens never to leave the memory. A committed formalist and an astute commentator, James examines the poems and legacies of a panorama of twentieth-century poets, from Hart Crane to Ezra Pound, from Ted Hughes to Anne Sexton. In some cases he includes second readings or rereadings from later in life--just to be sure he wasn't wrong the first time! Whether demanding that poetry must be heard beyond the world of poetry or opining on his five favorite poets (Yeats, Frost, Auden, Wilbur, and Larkin), James captures the whole truth of life's transience in this unforgettably eloquent book on how to read and appreciate modern poetry.

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User Review  - AmberMcWilliams - LibraryThing

This is a truly extraordinary book. James has always been among my favourite critics of anything (I have devoured his TV columns, despite never having seen the programmes on which he is writing) but ... Read full review

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User Review  - LeaderElliott - LibraryThing

Clive James is dying. 'Japanese Maple', his poem published in the September 2014 issue of the 'The New Yorker' anticipates the inevitable, but promises, 'A final flood of colours will live on/As my ... Read full review

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About the author (2015)

Born in Australia, Clive James lives in Cambridge, England. He is the author of Unreliable Memoirs; a volume of selected poems, Opal Sunset; the best-selling Cultural Amnesia; and the translator of The Divine Comedy by Dante. He has written for the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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