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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Writing About His Impending Death Has Given Clive James's Poetry New Life

Clive James’s new book of essays, Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language, makes plain at the outset a desire to “keep things terse and particular.” Many of these pieces are short essays that address a general reader and conduct close readings of particular poems, even particular lines; many were commissioned by Christian Wiman, the former editor of Poetry magazine (to whom James dedicated a recent collection of poems). “I was getting old,” James observes in the introduction, “and the concentration necessary for writing a long piece seemed better reserved for writing poems, when they came.”

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