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I am an English writer, not a British one, Ian McEwan tells Alex Salmond

Olympic opening ceremony was first and only time novelist had seen 'Britishness' celebrated, he tells Scotland's first minister The Booker prize-winning novelist Ian McEwan has rejected any notion...

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The Rape of Lucrece – Edinburgh festival review

Royal Lyceum The stage is bare but for a piano and piles of dusty manuscripts. The manuscripts seem to be there to remind us that what we are watching is a narrative poem – published by Shakespeare in...

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Mark Grist – Edinburgh festival review

Underbelly The story I'm about to tell, says Mark Grist, is a tragedy – which isn't how internet sensations usually describe their overnight fame. Grist is the "rap battle teacher" who bested a...

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The Same Life Twice by Frank Kuppner – review

David Wheatley finds the big questions are a bulwark against boredom Creation and its paradoxes have long troubled the philosophical mind. Why should there be something rather than nothing, Leibniz...

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Poem of the week: Darts by Christina Dunhill

Dunhill's spare, thought-provoking poem draws parallels between the ancient game of skill and the art of poetry This week I've chosen Darts, a spare, thought-provoking poem from the excellent new...

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Ellen Nicholls obituary

My mother-in-law, Ellen Nicholls, who has died aged 104, was a child of her time. She belonged to the generation of women who accepted their lot and got on with their lives, with no bitterness and no...

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Mother's photographs of children show September as her cruellest month

School startings, lots of partings - this can be a hard time for parents. Helen Nugent reports on an exhibition in Keswick which makes the point "April is the cruellest month," wrote TS Eliot while...

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Bevel by William Letford – review

Nicholas Lezard enjoys a poetry collection of transcendental insight When I got to one of the poems here, I went into a reverie about a primary-school teacher, with misguided keenness, trying to get...

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He Never Leaves the Seat Up not my work, says Pam Ayres

Paean to the perfect partner favoured by many a wedding reader is not by Ayres, the poet has revealed. So who did write it? The worlds of poetry and weddings have been rocked to their twin foundations...

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To Macca's Shirt (On exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool, alongside Macca's...

By Roger McGough You arrived washed, ironed and lightly starched.Stars and stripes on the label, 'Broadway and Sunset Strip'Assumed he'd brought you back from his first American trip. But you weren't...

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Poem of the week: Denmark by Humbert Wolfe

This warm account of an imaginary country, indebted to the tales of Hans Christian Andersen, is not without some grimmer shadows A prolific novelist, translator and poet, at the height of his...

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Emily Dickinson gets a new look in recovered photograph

A daguerreotype appearing to show the famously reclusive poet is only the second photo we have of her A photograph believed to be an extremely rare image of Emily Dickinson has surfaced in her home...

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Simon Gough's top nine muses

From Shakespeare's 'fair youth' to F Scott Fitzgerald's Zelda, the author looks at writers' most significant others No one and nothing can be more personal to a poet than the muse. To some – the lucky...

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The sixth extinction menaces the very foundations of culture | Jonathan Jones

Human culture is profoundly rooted in nature, yet human activity endangers the survival of entire species of plants and animals In a cave in south-west France an extinct animal materialises out of the...

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Free Verse 2012: a tonic for the reader

Despite the recession, a poetry book fair can work wonders for publishers and browsers alike "Something positive emerging from the recession" – this was one of the many online responses to a book fair...

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Poster poems: September | Billy Mills

Politics, war and a sense of passing have all been recurring themes among poets going about their business as summer turns to autumn. Are your thoughts of a rusty brown hue? Ah, September: the ninth...

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Yellow Tulips by James Fenton - review

Patrick McGuinness hails James Fenton as Auden's heir "This is the wind, the wind in a field of corn. / Great crowds are fleeing from a major disaster / Down the long valleys, the green swaying wadis,...

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Rereading Jane Austen's Novels

By Katha Pollitt This time round, they didn't seem so comic.Mama is foolish, dim or dead, Papa'sa sort of genial, pampered lunatic.No one thinks of anything but class. Talk about rural idiocy!...

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Poem of the week: Brittle Beauty by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

Had Henry Howard lived past 30, it might have been he rather than Shakespeare who gave his name to the sonnet form in which they both specialised Together with Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, earl of...

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Yet another poet leaves a mark on the northern landscape

The Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has waymarkers in Pendle; Simon Armitage has inscribed rocks on Ilkley Moor. Now Sir Andrew Motion bestrides the Howgill fells and valley of the Lune. Michael...

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