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John Hartley Williams obituary

Prolific poet whose work combined technical panache with extraordinary linguistic rangeHidden Identities, the first full collection from the poet John Hartley Williams, who has died aged 72 from...

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Simon Russell Beale leads complete Shakespeare sonnets readathon

Stage legends and members of public to perform all 154 sonnets in single evening which one would you read aloud?Barely has the quill dried on Michael Billington's series, Shakespeare's plays: as you...

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Denise Inge obituary

My wife, Denise Inge, who has died of cancer aged 51, was a passionate champion of Thomas Traherne. Her work on the recently discovered manuscripts of the 17th-century poet and theologian has helped...

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Good-bye to All That by Robert Graves review a timely reissue

Graves's superbly sardonic memoir should be essential reading for the centenary of the first world warRobert Graves's superbly sardonic account of his childhood, schooling, the great war and his first...

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Dylan Thomas: not just a womanising drunk

A new BBC drama about Dylan Thomas's final days in New York will be broadcast as part of his centenary celebrations. Does it just add to the myth?Two weeks ago a large audience of Dylan Thomas...

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The Saturday Poem: Lessons in the Orchard

by Carol Ann DuffyAn apple's soft thump on the grass, somewhenin this place. What was it? Beauty of Bath.What was it? Yellow, vermillion, round, big, splendid;already escaping the edge of itself,like...

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From the Observer archive, 20 May 1984: John Betjeman was a giant of our age...

The poet's death has deprived us of an original whose vision never waveredThe popularity of John Betjeman's poetry has worked rather in his disfavour with parts of the literary establishment, as it did...

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Everybody Down review urgent hip-hop from acclaimed poet Kate Tempest

(Big Dada)Long before she won the Ted Hughes award for poetry last year, south Londoner Kate Tempest was a veteran of open-mic nights. She's returned to hip-hop for her debut album; uncluttered...

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Poems for Europe: 10 national portraits in verse

What happened when 10 European poets were asked to portray their home country in verse ahead of the European elections? Well, the first thing some of them did was cheat. Then they all became a little...

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The Poems of Rowan Williams the musings of God's quiet messenger

The former archbishop of Canterbury wears his faith lightly in this arresting and surprising compilation of poemsThis collection a vigorous compilation of old and new poems including translations of...

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A Poet in New York; Imagine ; Wallander TV review

Dylan Thomas was tip-top, apart from the gout, gastritis, piles, boils, booze and sonorous recitalsIf you like your TV men drunk, white, middle-aged, sweaty, dishevelled, testy and self-loathing (and I...

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Four Quartets: TS Eliot's struggle to make the real world right in a...

These poems are about old age and regret, but also poetic structure and art. After them, there was nothing much left to sayThe greatness of the Four Quartets lies partly in their abstract...

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Poem of the week: Sonnet of Irreconcilables by Christopher Middleton

A classical music broadcast foregrounds fears of a cheapening of culture, and the possibility of mass brutalisation, in this late work from a poet with a unique and original voiceThis week's poem,...

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Clive James uses poem to reveal his longing to return to Sydney

As the Australian critic, broadcaster and poet approaches the end of his life, he yearns to 'bask in the light I never left behind' Approaching the end of his life, the Australian critic, broadcaster...

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline and extreme writing - quiz

A writer whose work is as highly regarded as his opinions are reviled, Céline was born on 27 May 1894 - a suitably perverse anniversary for us to bring you in for questioning about literature's...

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The Poetry Archive makes itself new | Andrew Motion

A decade ago we invented a great new online resource for poetry lovers. Mellifluous new bells and whistles have just made it even greaterRichard Carrington and I launched the online Poetry Archive a...

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WWI anthology includes Robert Graves attack on 'scum' celebrating victory

'Intensely bitter' draft of poem November 11th expresses horror at 'thoughtless and ignorant' crowdsRobert Graves's early draft of a poem in which he condemns the crowds celebrating the Armistice as...

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Maya Angelou obituary

Writer, poet and civil rights campaigner lauded for her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsThe writer Maya Angelou, who has died aged 86, won acclaim for her first autobiographical memoir, I Know...

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Maya Angelou dies at 86: what did the prolific poet mean to you?

To celebrate the life of one of America's most influential poets, we're asking you to tell us how you'll remember her Maya Angelou, one of the most powerful voices of contemporary literature, died on...

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Maya Angelou: six key works

From memoirs to poems, here are some must-reads from the late American author and poet The first of her seven books of autobiography has been an inspirational bestseller. It covers the years from three...

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