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Clive James

Clive James

Clive James (1939–2019) was a distinguished critic, poet, author, television performer, journalist, and lyricist. He was born and raised in Sydney, where he attended Sydney University. From 1961 he lived in England. Among his countless publications are nine poetry collections, four novels, a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, five volumes of memoirs (most famously Unreliable Memoirs), and many collections of literary and television criticism. He wrote for ABR twenty times between 2001 and 2015.

The Zero Pilot by Clive James

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
On the Hiryu, Hajime Toyoshima Starred in the group photos like Andy Hardy, He was so small and cute. His face, as friendly as his first name (In Japanese you say hajime at first meeting), Could have been chirping: ‘Hey, why don’t we Put the show on right here in the barn?’ After Pearl Harbor he was one of the great ship’s heroes And the attack on Darwin promised him yet more glory ... (read more)

‘Monja Blanca’ by Clive James

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
The wild White Nun, rarest and loveliest Of all her kind, takes form in the green shade Deep in the forest. Streams of filtered light Are tapped, distilled, and lavishly expressed As petals. Her sweet hunger is displayed By the labellum, set for bees in flight To land on. In her well, the viscin gleams: Mesmeric nectar, sticky stuff of dreams.  ... (read more)

'Silent Sky' by Clive James

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
Peter Porter b. Brisbane 1929, d. London 2010 The sky is silent. All the planes must keepClear of the fine volcanic ash that driftsEastward from Iceland like a bad idea.In your apartment building without lifts,Not well myself, I find it a bit steepTo climb so many stairs but know I mustIf I would see you still alive, still here.The word is out from those you love and trust –Time is so short t ... (read more)

'The Lions at Taronga' and 'Deckard Was a Replicant', two poems by Clive James

October 2001, no. 235 01 October 2001
The Lions at Taronga The leaves of Tower Bridge are rigged to openFor any taxi I might chance to catch.They say that when the ravens leave the Tower It means they’ll use my rain-stained study skylightAs a toilet. I can see Canary Wharf,A Russian rocket packed around with boosters Lit up to launch at dawn from Baikonur.The Blade of Light is cleared for butterfliesTo crash-land. When that lens- ... (read more)

'Where the Sea Meets the Desert', a poem by Clive James

April 2003, no. 250 01 April 2003
Antony and Cleopatra swam at Mersa MatruhIn the clear blue shallows.Imagine the clean sand, the absence of litter —No plastic bottles or scraps of styrofoam packing,No jetsam at all except the occasional corpseOf a used slave tossed off a galley —And the shrieks of the dancing Queen as the hero splashed herWhile her cheer-squad of ladies-in-waiting giggled on cue,The eunuchs holding the towels ... (read more)
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