Andrew Motion

Happy 80th birthday, Bob Dylan

40 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we’re celebrating the 80th birthday of Bob Dylan. My guests are the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, and Clinton Heylin, the Dylanologist’s Dylanologist and author most recently of The Double Life of Bob Dylan: A Restless Hungry Feeling 1941-66. I ask what makes Dylan special, whether what he does

Village voices

Max Porter’s first book, Grief is the Thing with Feathers (2015), got a lot of credit for finding original ways to talk about two of the oldest subjects under the sun: human love and human death. It’s hero is a young father writing a book about Ted Hughes, whose distress at the death of his

A remarkable show of devotion

On 13 September 1964, at the age of 42, Philip Larkin began writing to his mother Eva (his ‘very dear old creature’) by taking stock: Once again I am sitting in my bedroom in a patch of sunlight, embarking on my weekly task of ‘writing home’. I suppose I have been doing this now for

In two minds | 16 August 2018

‘I have a very poor opinion of other people’s opinion of me — though I am fairly happy in my own conceit — and always surprised to find that anyone likes my work or character.’ This admission by Robert Graves — made to his then friend Siegfried Sassoon in the mid-1920s — goes to the

Intimations of mortality | 9 February 2017

In Deaths of the Poets two living examples of the species, Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, retail the closing moments of close on 30 poetical lives, ranging from Thomas Chatterton to Robert Frost, Lord Byron to Rosemary Tonks, John Clare to Thom Gunn. Why? Because they feel the influence on ‘our’ generation (Farley was

A gift from beyond the grave

When Virgil died at Brindisium in 19 bc, on his way back to Rome from Greece, he left the Aeneid unfinished. When Seamus Heaney died in Dublin in 2013, his translation of Book VI was also unfinished, but like the whole of the original, his 1,222 lines were found to be in a publishable condition

The Camp

Near the dogleg turn of the lane down to the ponies’ field, skulking in summer among cow parsley and meadow sweet, in winter with their streaked black corrugated walls laid bare, were the half-dozen Nissen huts my father refused to mention. A prisoner of war camp for Italian soldiers, my mother told me, but also