In the Critics this Week

Philip Larkin and Ernest Hemingway remembered, Jude Rogers on Britpop and Will Self on kebabs.

This week, Anthony Thwaite, a former NS literary editor, assesses the legacy of Philip Larkin's poetry. To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Live Aid, Daniel Trilling charts the rise of the charitable pop star, while Rachel Cooke asks why abortion is still a taboo subject for TV drama.

In Books, Leo Robson reviews a restored edition of Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, Jude Rogers commends Louise Wener's candid memoir of her time as member of the Britpop band Sleeper and Charles Leadbeater explores the ideas of the internet guru Clay Shirky.

Elsewhere, Peter Watts reports from a provocative exhibition on skin at the Wellcome Collection, and we have the rest of the usual columns from our award-winning critics: Ryan Gilbey on film, Antonia Quirke on radio and Will Self's Real Meals - this week on the delights of a shish kebab.

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On Wheels

A new poem by Patrick Mackie

The hills swarm and soften towards the end of the day just as
flames do in a fireplace as the evening
loosens and breaks open and lets out night.
A nasty, grotesque, impatient year ended,
and the new one will be bitter,
tired, opaque. Words wrangle in every inch of air,
their mouths wide open in stupid shock
at what they have just heard every time they hear anything. Venus,
though, blazes with heavy wobbles of albeit frozen
light. Brecht, who I like to call my
brother just as he called Shelley his,
has a short late poem where he sits by a roadside, waiting
while someone changes the wheel on his car,
watching with impatience, despite not liking
either the place that he is coming from or
the place that he is going to. We call it
connectivity when in truth it is just aggression
and imitation writ ever larger. Poems, though,
are forms of infinite and wry but also briskly
impatient patience. Brecht’s poem seems to end,
for instance, almost before you
can read it. It wheels. The goddess is just a big, bright
wilderness but then soon enough she clothes
herself again in the openness of night and I lose her.

Patrick Mackie’s latest collection, The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints, is published by CB Editions.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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