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James Fenton, ‘Wind’

Here’s a link to the text and the poet’s reading of James Fenton’s superb short poem ‘Wind’ on the Poetry Archive: https://poetryarchive.org/poem/wind/

It’s a poem that brings tears to my eyes when I read it. Paradoxically, I think it does so at least partly by the serene beauty of its composition and the lightness with which it touches its matter. This lightness is reflected in the poet’s reading, which is thoughtful and tinged with sadness but never heavily emotive.

Despite its being so short, I would call it a great poem. Its point of view, its subject matter, is epic, dealing … Continue Reading

James Fenton, Yellow Tulips, Poems 1968 – 2011

James Fenton, Yellow Tulips, Poems 1968 – 2011, 176 pp, £14.99 hardback, Faber and Faber, Bloomsbury House, 74 – 77 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DA.

Yellow Tulips – Fenton’s new Selected Poems – reminds us what a towering figure he is. Its 160 pages cover a startling range of themes, tones, techniques and styles, often fusing modernist and contemporary elements with others that many would consider obsolete.

In the “Recent Work” section, for example, how many contemporary poets would write with the marmoreal gravity of “Memorial”, Fenton’s homage to the slain drivers and interpreters of war reporters, and then switch modes … Continue Reading

James Fenton, “At the Kerb” – public and private

My feelings about James Fenton’s elegy for Mick Imlah are still divided.

You can find the text at http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=25361

In Yellow Tulips: Poems 1968 – 2011 the poem appears with the dedication “i.m. Mick Imlah”.

The appearance of Yellow Tulips is a major publishing event and there’s a great deal in “At the Kerb” that I admire very much indeed, both for its sheer accomplishment and for its imaginative daring. To take the last point, how many modern English poets would dare write in such an overtly artificial way, starting a poem with the syntactical inversion of the first three words … Continue Reading