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Index: Commentary on Art and Literature

In Defence of Stress.

John Wilkinson: ‘The apogee of academic instruction in close reading and literary history, was attained at a brief moment in the 1950s and 1960s, remaining essential to a reaction in subsequent deconstructive theory. Reliance on such a literary culture and its associated skills has become anachronistic.’

A Life in Poetry: Peter Robinson.

Peter Robinson:’I’m a northerner, but not a ‘proud’ or ‘professional’ one. Liverpool, where my mother still lives, as do two of my dearest friends, is the only place I can call my hometown.’

From ‘Corot’s Walk’.

John Taylor: ‘Did Corot have a story to tell? Nearly all his paintings tell of the absence of a memorable story: only a mother and her child, only two peasant women gathering herbs or flowers, only a peasant leading his cow down the road.’

The Literature Director.

Anthony Barnett: ‘I provide opportunities for moral ethical spiritual social discussion
particularly among young people and with visitors from overseas
that’s rich a bit like me I know this certainly because it says so on the web’

The Workshop.

Michelene Wandor: ‘In academic terms, the workshop is another word for the seminar: small-group teaching which aims to maximise and democratise student participation. The sources of this form of  learning come from both ends of the educational class and age spectrums.’


Leida Kibuvits: ‘Margus’s eyes stop suddenly at a fashion boutique’s display window. The bright colours of a particular ladies’ hat forced him to stop. Violet-green-pink. An odd combination, utterly tacky, thinks Margus absent-mindedly.’

MFA Industry News.

Arturo Desimone: ‘Diamond’s amen serves to remind all would-be young writers who face the same perils as Perez, that a new consensus governs the twenty-first century, a new common-sense about what kind of literary icons we may or may not respect, and that we are long past the era of non-academicist or non-program-hatched writers.’

Robert Frost’s New Hampshire and the poet’s true voice.

Stephen Wade: ‘Realism has always been open to sentimentality, and imagery can at times run away from any logical, designed basis, shooting on to be, for instance, a disappointing final couplet in a sonnet.’

Three poems from ‘The Wandering Life’.

Yves Bonnefoy: ‘Three angels are standing there, who look at him and smile. One wears a red robe; another’s raiment is blue-gray; the third is swathed in saffron yellow, inconceivably vivid and intense. ‘Who are you?’ he asks them.’

Difficult poetry.

Anthony Howell: ‘Difficulty is nothing new. As F.T. Prince explains in his treatise on the Italian influence on English lyrical verse, poetry is not simply adroit use of sprezzatura – a quality cited by Baldassare Castiglione in his Book of the Courtier, where it is defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”.’

The Persistence of the Song.

Alan Wall: ‘Blues has had an incalculable influence on modern song. Many of the basic riffs of the Rolling Stones come straight out of standard blues refrains: Keith Richards has been an assiduous student of black music.’

Angels of the singularity.

James Gallant: ‘There is no explanation for 143 of the 144 sightings studied between 2004 and 2021. This is worrying, since unidentified aerial phenomena pose a “safety of flight issue” and “possibly a challenge to national security.”’

First prose.

Conor Robin Madigan: ‘We’re masticating the best of our young novelists into pulp by telling them to get out of their own way (go to more school, find an agent, sign a contract), the novel declines, along with society’s expectations, into a mechanistic drive toward repetition and output.

M. Baudelaire’s nightlife.

Alan Wall: ‘Nineteenth-century France does appear to be full of fellows slagging off their old mums at every opportunity, and having tea with them the following day. Oedipus reconciled, eh. Baudelaire’s trial for obscenity took place in 1857; Flaubert’s in 1859.’

Reading Joyce in Guarani and Hieroglyphics.

Peter O’Brien: ‘O’Neill’s detailed and exhaustive overview not only tracks each and every translation to date, he also climbs into the personalities of the members of the translational tribe. He calls such people “clearly a very special breed – and clearly given to heroic endeavour.”’