In the Critics this week

Van Gogh, Sarah Palin, John Berger and more.

In the Critics section of this week's New Statesman, we have a superb essay by Margaret Drabble on Van Gogh's letters, which are the centrepiece of "The Real Van Gogh", a forthcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy. To read that piece, you'll have to buy a copy of the magazine.

In the meantime, here's a selection from the other riches on offer this week in The Critics:

Books: Sarah Churchwell on the phenomenon of Sarah Palin; Leo Robson on Frank Kermode's homage to E M Forster; Michael Sayeau on Jonathan Lethem's latest novel, Chronic City.

Film: Ryan Gilbey on the new film from Hirokazu Kore-eda.

Radio: Antonia Quirke on the remarkable self-regard of Lady Antonia Fraser.

Television: Rachel Cooke on a history of the British family.

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“Minoan pendant”: a new poem by Mark Granier

“Yes – I press my nose / to the pleasantly warm glass – / it’s a copy of one I saw / cased in the cool museum”

Yes – I press my nose
to the pleasantly warm glass –
it’s a copy of one I saw
cased in the cool museum –
gold beaten to honey, a grainy
oval dollop, flanked by two
slim symmetrical bees –

garland for a civilisation’s
rise and collapse, eye-dropped
five thousand years: a flash
of evening sun on a windscreen
or wing mirror – Heraklion’s
scooter-life buzzing and humming –

as I step in to browse, become
mesmerised by the warm
dark eyes of the woman
who gives her spiel and moves
softly and with such grace,
that, after leaving, I hesitate

a moment on the pavement
then re-enter with a question
I know not to ask, but ask
anyway, to hear her voice
soften even more as she smiles
and shakes her hair – no.

Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Haunt (Salmon).

This article first appeared in the 16 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Britain on the brink