Poetry

‘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)

Preacher and prosecutor

2 July 2016 9:00 am

Craig Raine is a pugnacious figure in the fractious world of contemporary poetry. When his poem ‘Gatwick’ appeared in the…

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…

poetic

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…

‘Night in Marrakesh’, 1968, by Brion Gysin

Cut-ups, hallucinations and Hermann Goering: the extraordinary life of Brion Gysin

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Among my more bohemian friends in 1980s London, Brion Gysin was a name spoken with a certain awe. He was…

Spectator letters: A Christian response to the Syrian refugee crisis

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Biblical suggestions Sir: I wish to offer a couple of comments on Matthew Parris’s observation that although his ‘Christian atheism’…

Lauren Laverne (Photo: Getty)

Late Night Woman’s Hour assumes that all women think about is dating, desire and drinking

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Late Night Woman’s Hour has created a Twitter storm with its twice-weekly (Thursdays and Fridays) doses of ‘mischievous and unbridled…

Author, critic and TV presenter Clive James (Photo: Getty)

‘Doorways to the unknown’: Clive James’s Latest Readings

22 August 2015 9:00 am

In the preface to his great collection of essays The Dyer’s Hand, W.H. Auden claimed: ‘I prefer a critic’s notebooks…

Author Jonathan Galassi (Photo: Elena Seibert)

Jonathan Galassi’s fictional poet made me doubt my knowledge of American literature

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Jonathan Galassi is an American publisher, poet and translator. In his debut novel Muse, his passion for the ‘good old…

‘Thetis giving Achilles his arms’ (fresco), Giulio Romano, 1492–1546

A new translation of the Iliad

8 August 2015 9:00 am

‘Why do another translation of Homer?’ Richmond Lattimore asked in the foreword to his own great translation of the Iliad…

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Helen Vendler is full of condescending waffle (and not just when she’s attacking me)

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Is it possible to tell a good poem from a bad one? To put the question another way: are there…

Edward Thomas (Photo: Getty)

Edward Thomas: the prolific hack (who wrote a book review every three days for 14 years) turned to poetry just in time

23 May 2015 9:00 am

Edward Thomas was gloomy as Eeyore. In 1906 he complained to a friend that his writing ‘was suffering more &…

Prince Alemayehu (Photo: Getty)

This radio programme almost made me like Piers Morgan

9 May 2015 9:00 am

An extraordinary black-and-white photograph of a young black boy taken on the Isle of Wight by Julia Margaret Cameron in…

Poet John Clare spent much of his life destitute, and died in Northampton General Asylum. (Photo: Getty)

What’s On in South Devon gave me three choices: functioning psychotic preacher, bingo or a poetry evening

25 April 2015 9:00 am

I’m such a constitutional lightweight lately that I’ve started looking on the website What’s On in South Devon for things…

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There’s nothing wrong with getting into Thomas Tallis on the back of Fifty Shades of Grey

28 February 2015 9:00 am

Great works of art may have a strange afterlife. Deracinated from the world that created them they are at the…