In the Critics this Week

An interview with Philip Pullman, Ryan Gilbey's review of the new Polanski film, and much more.

In this week's New Statesman, Jonathan Derbyshire meets Philip Pullman, Ryan Gilbey reviews Roman Polanski's film adaptation of The Ghost, and our television critic Rachel Cooke is watching BBC documentaries.

Elsewhere, in music and performance: Rick Jones meets Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov, and Sanjoy Roy remembers choreographer Pina Bausch, while in books: Roy Hattersley reviews Philip Blond's Red Tory, Sophie Elmhirst sizes up Lucian Randall's book on Brass Eye creator Chris Morris, Richard Howitt reviews a book on the populist radical right in Poland, and Leo Robson takes a look at The Cambridge Companion to English Novelists.

There is an interview with Christopher Harvie, author of Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown, as well as our usuals from radio critic Antonia Quirke, and columnist Will Self on his search for the perfect fish and chips.

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Moss Side Public Laundry, 1979

A new poem by Pippa Little.

Childless I arrive with a rucksack,
own no Silver Cross steered topple-high
by the bare-legged women in check coats
and bulging shoes who load and unload
ropes of wet sheets, wring them out
to rams’ horns while heat-slap of steam
dries to tinsel in our hair, frizzles our lips
gritty with Daz sherbert dabs and the mangle,
wide as a room-size remnant, never stops groaning
one slip and you’re done for…

In the boom and echo of it, their calls swoop
over Cross-your-Hearts, Man. City socks,
crimplene pinks and snagged underskirts,
Maggie Maggie Maggie Out Out Out! blasts
from across the park, whole streets
get knocked out like teeth,
in a back alley on the way a man
jumped me, shocked as I was
by the fuck off! I didn’t know was in me

but which I try out now to make them laugh, these women
who scrub blood and beer and come
with red-brick soap, quick-starch a party dress
while dryers flop and roar
before their kids fly out of school,
flock outside for a smoke’s sweet rest
from the future bearing down of four walls and one man.

Pippa Little’s collection Overwintering (Carcanet) was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Award. Her new book, Twist, was published in March by Arc. 

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder