Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
21 June 2012

Clive James is losing battle with cancer

Poetry is where he started and "probably where I'll end", he told NS in 2010

By New Statesman

Today brings the sad news that writer, critic and television broadcaster Clive James is losing his battle with cancer. He told Radio 4’s Meeting Myself Coming Back programme, in a show to be broadcast this Saturday, that he was “getting near the end” after being diagnosed with leukaemia, kidney failure and lung disease in 2010.

In an interview with the New Statesman that year James spoke about his extraordinary career, about freedom in the West, and about how poetry “is always the centre of the whole business. It’s where I started. It’s probably where I’ll end.”

In 2011 he wrote a poem for the magazine:

“Procedure for Disposal”

It may not come to this, but if I should
Fail to survive this year of feebleness
Which irks me so and may have killed for good
Whatever gift I had for quick success –
For I could talk an hour alone on stage
And mostly make it up along the way,
But now when I compose a single page
Of double-spaced it takes me half the day –
If I, that is, should finally succumb
To these infirmities I’m slow to learn
The names of lest my brain be rendered numb
With boredom even as I toss and turn,
Then send my ashes home, where they can fall
In their own sweet time from the harbour wall.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up