Category Archives: Poetry

Larkin and Greyfriars

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am rarely so enthusiastic as when exploring old issues of the Magnet comic, in which ‘Frank Richards’ each week delivered new instalments of the exploits of Harry Wharton, Billy Bunter and co. at Greyfriars School. Visiting Hull just in time to catch the deeply enjoyable Philip […]

Housman and Kipling

I’ve recently been reading, with great pleasure, Housman Country by Peter Parker. It is a commentary on A Shropshire Lad, but not the usual kind of critical work. It looks at the book’s origins and influence, with plenty of interesting diversions, many of which are about the poems’ role in the twentieth-century definition of ‘Englishness’, […]

Kipling the pacifist?

Poems often take on new lives and different identities once they get away from the poet, but Rudyard Kipling might have been rather interested, and maybe even amused, by the annexation of his work by pacifists. Here is an article from the Camden New Journal last week:

Following Sassoon in France

Last week’s trip to France with Battle Honours Tours exceeded my expectations. The tour’s title was Sassoon on the Western Front, and our itinerary followed his military progress, around the places in France where he served and fought. We had two guides. Rory Stephens took us through the military background with commendably revisionist enthusiasm and […]

Ted Hughes

I spent yesterday at the Ted Hughes conference in the smart Heritage Quay suite at Huddersfield University. I gave a paper titled ‘Ted Hughes and Gallipoli’, about his representations of his father’s war (William Hughes was on the peninsula with the 1st/5th Lancashire Fusiliers and, Hughes wrote, remained ‘undemobbed’, still troubled by his experiences for […]

The National Service Board – and A.E. Housman

In 1940 Percy Withers recalled occasions when, during the previous war, he had told A.E. Housman about his work at the National Service Board: He was greatly interested too in the technicalities of the work, the material it exploited, the revelations it brought to light, the ugliness, the momentary relief, the sordidness, the enduring pity. […]

Sassoon and slanginess

An article in the Guardian alerts us to an interesting new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. It tells the story of a century of anti-war protest, and one of the exhibits is a manuscript copy of ‘The General’ by Siegfried Sassoon.

Geoffrey Hill (1932 – 2016)

Geoffrey Hill has died, a remarkable poet and a profound critic. I heard him lecture  on war poetry at Oxford a few years ago, and wrote about it here.

Arnold Bennett and Friends – at Stoke

I had a very good day yesterday at the Arnold Bennett Society conference at Stoke-on Trent. I haven’t been to one of these annual shindigs since 2009 (I described that visit on this blog). Since then I’ve often wanted to return, but the conference date has clashed with other events where I have had standing […]

Ivor Gurney

This is just a note to say that Tim Kendall’s excellent documentary, ‘Ivor Gurney: The Poet who loved the War’, is now available to watch in full on Vimeo: