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From Keats to Merseybeat: a retreat into my favourite verse is a soul saver |...

Poems are Swiss army knives of words – they have multiple uses I can’t remember when I fell in love with poetry, though I remember the teachers who encouraged it. I remember bringing in a lever-arch...

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Thomas Keneally: ‘Does anyone write a good book at 83? Well, I think I have’’

The Australian novelist on crying over a Dickens biography, laughing at Kathy Lette and the classic he is ashamed not to have read The book I am currently readingThe Barbara Kingsolver novel...

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The best recent poetry collections – review

The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie; The Mother House, by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin; A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson; and Still Life by Ciaran Carson As someone who passes a Pictish symbol stone with...

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Poem of the month: Bicep to Bicep by Mary J Oliver

Each month the Guardian’s Review section selects a poem to highlight It was his jobto give me away Yet I wasn’t his to give Continue reading...

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Frost Fair by Carol Ann Duffy review – icy perfection from a curator of cold

Duffy’s beguiling short ballad, gracefully illustrated by David de las Heras, pithily explores London’s ‘Great Winter’ of 1683Frost Fair is a tiny book, about 4in x 4in, and might be alighted upon as a...

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'Sometimes the world goes feral' – 11 odes to Europe

As Britain braces itself for the Brexit endgame, leading poets – from Carol Ann Duffy to Andrew McMillan – take the pulse of our fragmenting world From the collection Kin, Cinnamon Press, 2018 Continue...

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Poem of the week: The Flea by John Donne

A ludicrous image of physical intimacy provides a suitor with a feeble wooing ruse – and us with sharp romantic comedy Related: 'Sometimes the world goes feral' – 11 odes to Europe Continue reading...

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I Wanna Be Yours review – a love story with heady chemistry

Bush theatre, LondonRagevan Vasan and Emily Stott star as a couple pulled apart by their backgrounds in this play by slam poet Zia Ahmed The question of how to build intimacy across the divides of our...

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'Ridiculously hard': how Neil Gaiman wrote a poem for refugees from 1,000 tweets

The author and UNHCR ambassador appealed for warm scenes for his poem What You Need to Be Warm – and received ideas from everyone from Ben Stiller to Monica Lewinsky Read the poem below Coming up with...

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This old Etonian is no harmless buffoon | Letters

The nickname ‘Boris’ is misleadingly cuddly, says Lisa Hallgarten’s poem, while Hilton McRae can’t understand the public’s fondness for electing Eton alumniDon’t call him Boris.It’s the name for a...

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The advantage of life in the slow train | Brief letters

Virgin Trains | Letters | Partridges | Christmas hits | Election break | PoetryYou say the Advanced Passenger Train had been canned “partly because of the motion sickness it allegedly induced” (End of...

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Clive James remembered by John Simpson

7 October 1939 – 24 November 2019The BBC world affairs editor on the gifted critic, poet and wit who elevated British life with his televisual panache• Gordon Banks remembered by Peter Shilton• Read...

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The nine lives of Cats: how poetry became a musical, then a film …

Published as war broke out in 1939, TS Eliot’s Book of Practical Cats outsold The Waste Land. The 1980s saw a West End smash. Will the new film speak to us today? When Old Possum’s Book of Practical...

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Poem of the week: The Corn-Stalk Fiddle by Paul Laurence Dunbar

From one of the great black American poets, this harvest song combines formal and vernacular language to potent effect The Corn-Stalk Fiddle When the corn’s all cut and the bright stalks shineLike the...

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Robert Graves on magical women – archive, 18 December 1968

18 December 1968: On a walk in his adopted home of Majorca, the poet talks about women, love, life and death “Women,” said Robert Graves, “hold the key to the return of a Golden Age. And that will be...

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The Penguin Book of Oulipo review – writing, a user's manual

Lovers of word games and literary puzzles will relish this indispensable anthology celebrating Perec, Calvino and many others The Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (Workshop for Potential Literature)...

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How to be hopeful: Alice Oswald’s poem Mist

The poet on the startling wonders of the natural world Continue reading...

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'We encourage the audience to boo, jeer and heckle': competitions that reward...

Poets have a reputation for taking themselves too seriously. The anti-slam throws that stereotype out the window Jakob Boyd’s whole body folds around the microphone. The words come out of him like a...

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TS Eliot would not have minded Cats reviews, says his estate

Original author ‘liked to have his head blown’ and would have seen the funny side of film’s terrible reception, says spokesperson TS Eliot “would have had a sense of humour” about the much derided film...

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Rick Vick obituary

My best friend, Rick Vick, who has died aged 71, was known as “the Poet of Stroud”. He was a writer who became a teacher in prisons and rehab centres in Gloucestershire. He contributed to the research...

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