Clive James on the art of poetry

Clive James on the art of poetry

Poetry Notebook 2006–2014

by Clive James

Picador, $32.99 hb, 249 pages, 9781447269106

Poetry ‘cannot be an ark to help us survive the flood’, wrote Zbigniew Herbert in 1948: ‘It has to be our daily bread, an article of primary need.’ Nothing could be more truly said of Clive James’s approach to poetry. His latest assemblage of essays, reviews, and miscellanea, collected over the years that straddle his diagnosis of leukemia, feel necessary as oxygen. There is a quiet restlessness too: a sense of sorting papers into some final order.

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