Rabih Alameddine’s desperate protagonist is plagued by Death, the Devil and the ashes of former lovers

22 October 2016 9:00 am

Shades of The Master and Margarita haunt Rabih Alameddine’s sixth book, in which Jacob, a Yemeni-born poet with a day…

Kate Tempest in 2015. Photo: Andrew Benge/Getty Images

Kate Tempest's poetry is simply no good

8 October 2016 9:00 am

Kate Tempest, a 30 year old dramatist and poet, has an appeal that’s hard to fathom. Is it all in…

Niche: an English word that turned into a French one

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Jonathan Swift, in his satirical poem ‘An Epistle to a Lady’, says modestly: ‘If I can but fill my Nitch,/…

Vintage letter and communication concept.

What you learn when you learn a poem by heart

10 September 2016 9:00 am

I’ve just learned by heart another poem — my first in nearly 30 years. The one I chose was A.E.…

Author Jon Kalman Stefansson (Photo: Getty)

Gale-force lyricism from Iceland’s most poetic novelist

27 August 2016 9:00 am

Centuries before their footballers learned giant-slaying ways, Icelanders knew how to startle the world with tall stories. In the moonscape…

Show your colours: a digital visualisation of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival’s closing light display

Scotland’s cultural scene is becoming vile, venal and parochial

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Many years ago an arts spokesperson for the SNP launched an extraordinary attack on Scottish Opera, saying, ‘If push comes…

World War II Enemy Fire Front Line

War Porn: a novel of the Iraq war that rewards repeated rereading

6 August 2016 9:00 am

In the first year or so of the Iraq occupation — or ‘big Army goatfuck’, as it is not quite…


How I survived my nightmare upbringing, by Ariel Leve

30 July 2016 9:00 am

All parents worry about the extent to which their children will expose their private weirdness to the world. They tell…

Old Book With Bright Light

St Mark’s Gospel is as good as EastEnders

30 July 2016 9:00 am

More brides in Britain go down the aisle to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ than to any other tune, Simon…

(Photo: Getty)

Dictators’ new argument against free speech

23 July 2016 9:00 am

These days, you only need to turn your back for five minutes and you’ve missed another horror. The Turkish coup…

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, multisexual kleptomaniac, scatologist and creator of Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’, c.1920

The woman who really made Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’

16 July 2016 9:00 am

Who really made Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain'? Stephen Bayley looks back at the early days of the Dada movement a century after it began

‘Stack building, Malvern Hills’, by Laura Knight

A.E. Housman: the laureate of repression

2 July 2016 9:00 am

A.E. Housman’s poems leave us with the impression of fire that has been carefully wrapped in ice, says Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Poet Craig Raine (Photo: Getty)

Craig Raine: the critics’ greatest critic

2 July 2016 9:00 am

In My Grandmother’s Glass Eye, Raine has nothing but contempt for his poet-critic contemporaries – ‘bad readers’ who ‘get poetry wrong’

Author Margo Jefferson (Photo: Getty)

Slow radio at its best

18 June 2016 9:00 am

Three women, three writers, three very different life experiences. On Monday afternoon the artist Fiona Graham-Mackay introduced us to Imtiaz…

A kind of posthumous existence: a death mask of Keats, sold at auction for £16,100 in 1996

A beautiful place to die: Italy and the Romantic poets

28 May 2016 9:00 am

People can be mightily protective of their Romantic poets. When I worked at the Keats Shelley House, overlooking the Spanish…

Bob Geldof enjoys WB Yeats (Photo: BBC/Fergal O'Reilly)

BBC4’s Bob Geldof on WB Yeats was one of the best literary documentaries I’ve seen

9 April 2016 9:00 am

In recent years there’s been a fashion for arts documentaries presented by celebs rather than boring old experts — presumably…


What I’ve learned reciting poems in the street

2 April 2016 9:00 am

What I’ve learned from reciting verse in the street

‘The upper part of the cascade at Hafod’ by John ‘Warwick’ Smith, 1793

How to view the view

20 February 2016 9:00 am

It’s not all picnics and cowslips. You need sense as well as sensibility to appreciate a landscape, says Mary Keen

An otter’s metabolism is so high that you’d have to eat 88 Big Macs a day to match it

Charles Foster: ‘I need to be more of a badger’

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Being a Beast is an impassioned and proselytising work of philosophy based on a spectacular approach to nature writing. That…

Gerard Manley Hopkins (Photo: Getty)

The confessions of Gerard Manley Hopkins

9 January 2016 9:00 am

‘I am 12 miles from a lemon,’ lamented that bon vivant clergyman Sydney Smith on reaching one country posting. He…

'Leslie and Clodagh Waddington' (1996) by Peter Blake

How pop is Peter Blake?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Painters and sculptors are highly averse to being labelled. So much so that it seems fairly certain that, if asked,…

Facsimile pages from Rex Whistler’s An Anthology of Mine

Rex Whistler: ‘a desolate sense of loneliness amidst so much fun’

14 November 2015 9:00 am

When Hugh and Mirabel Cecil’s book In Search of Rex Whistler was published in 2012, the late Brian Sewell reviewed…

Sir Ian McKellen (Photo: Getty)

National Poetry Day's mistake: letting normal people do the reading

17 October 2015 8:00 am

Imagine what Brennig Davies must have felt like just before 11 o’clock last Tuesday evening. The 15-year-old was about to…

Hughes in 1986: Bate simply fails to make the case his book stands on – that the poet was a sadist

An unauthorised, and unconvincing, biography of Ted Hughes

3 October 2015 8:00 am

Craig Raine says that Jonathan Bate’s unauthorised biography of Ted Hughes gets it wrong on every level

‘Capel-y-ffin’, 1926–7 (watercolour and gouache)

David Jones: painter, poet and mystic

26 September 2015 8:00 am

David Jones (1895–1974) was a remarkable figure: artist and poet, he was a great original in both disciplines. His was…