Category Archives: Poetry

Realism is Not Enough

The British Poetry of the First World War conference at Oxford gave me plenty to think about. One sentence from that has stuck in my mind as a theme I want to develop at some time in the future is from the presentation by Andrew Palmer. ‘Realism is not enough,’ he said. He was talking […]

Fun with Ngrams

One of the pleasures of the British Poetry of the First World War conference (and the pleasures were many – I’ll be mentioning several over the next week or so) was Jay Winter’s talk on ‘Glory’. He traced the decline of the word in English by use of  Google Ngrams. This is a neat bit […]

The Fashion in War Poetry

I’m greatly looking forward to the British Poetry of the First World War conference at Oxford this weekend, and have been studying the programme with interest. So many panels, and hard choices to be made… I found myself counting the poets named in the various paper titles, seeing which poets were most academically  popular in […]

A Galsworthy typo?

In my paper for the British Poetry of the First World War conference at Oxford at the end of this week, I’m discussing how war poets were represented in novels of the twenties. A key exhibit is Wilfrid Desert,  the Byronic and disillusioned (‘Bitter as quinine’) poet of Galsworthy’s The White Monkey. Galsworthy gives us […]

Shell shock, newspapers, poetry

The other day I blogged my disagreement with Roy Greenslade’s  sweeping claim in the Guardian : Only later did the public learn of the high casualty toll and the horrific nature of trench warfare, such as the use of poison gas and the effects of shell shock. About shell shock I cited an article from […]

The New Oxford Book of War Poetry

Jon Stallworthy’s Oxford Book of War Poetry was first published thirty years ago. Vernon Scannell, in a generally appreciative Guardian review, noted that ‘this editor’s selective criteria are rather obscure’, and indeed there is an interesting quirkiness in the selections that Professor Stallworthy makes from three thousand years of poetry, from the Book of Exodus […]

Eliot, Joyce, Gogarty, Jesus

It’s a while since I last read the ‘Nighttown’ episode of Ulysses, but it’s where I opened the book when I took it off  the shelf  this evening, and I kept on reading.  Suddenly I came on something oddly familiar from a different context. It’s at the point in the fantasy when Edward the Seventh […]

Poetry and prose

In his first-rate Ivor Gurney documentary on BBC4 yesterday, Tim Kendall rightly pointed out that Gurney is exceptional among Great War poets because of his specificity (naming fellow-soldiers), his communication of soldiers’ conviviality, and his depiction of the routine of military life. It struck me that these are exactly the qualities I value in war […]

Tim Kendall on Ivor Gurney

Here’s this weekend’s required TV viewing:

Prison Libraries

I by and large keep contemporary politics out of this blog, but I’m utterly fuming at the Justice Secretary’s decision to prevent prisoners being sent books as presents. They must buy them from their meagre wages, he says, or rely on the prison library. I’m sure that prison libraries have improved since 1917, but I […]

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