A letter to Barack Obama

November 22, 2016

It’s Thanksgiving week in America, and while schoolchildren are being told the old stories about Pilgrims fleeing persecution and friendly Indians teaching them how to grow their harvest, there is a mighty battle raging in North Dakota. At Standing Rock reservation, militarised police are attacking peaceful protesters – protectors, they call themselves – in service […]

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November 11, 2016

This is for everything. I guess at some point I’ll be able to string together a sentence. In the meantime…

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Transatlantic pre-election news straddle: the government? against whom?

November 5, 2016

Well, it’s the final stretch now: three days till the election. The long-form analysis pieces are following thick and fast, the tit for tat continues, and most sensible people have stopped even trying to talk about it. I will just refer you to Andrew Sullivan – the erstwhile indefatigable blogger of The Daily Dish – who has surfaced […]

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A poem on National Poetry Day, 6th October 2016

October 6, 2016

If the state of politics is bringing out your nervous tics – your leg, your nose, your eye, your face – if you despair of the human race, if Brexit leaves you short of breath, where ‘May’ means ‘must on pain of death’ – if you despise a shirt of black, if you fear no one’s […]

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The worst thing in the world: a view from London

September 11, 2016

It seems like ancient history now. The world before. I remember staring at the BBC website and saying to my colleague, ‘Oh Jesus so this is it. This is it. The beginning.’ He goes, beginning of what, what you talking about? I said, ‘World War Three. This is it.’ He laughed. Don’t be ridiculous, no […]

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Forward Prize shortlist, Day 1: Alice Oswald

August 31, 2016

Ten days till my workshop on all ten shortlisted books, I’m going to post a little something about one of the books every day. With luck that’ll amount to a fair bit of blogging, as there were some other things I wanted to write about too. Alice Oswald’s new collection is a frankly staggering piece […]

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Forward into the breach!*

August 11, 2016

There’s something going on, and it’s changing the culture of UK poetry. Okay, it’s changing the prize culture of UK poetry, but that really does have an impact on who reads what. In the three years (this year), since its new Director Susannah Herbert took over, the Forward Prize has quietly achieved a bit of a […]

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A meditation on Ernest Dowson, on his 149th birthday

August 2, 2016

Okay, it has now been over a month since the EU referendum and its famous result. A week or two afterwards I did write a whole blog post about it – about that first morning when we heard the news – but just as I got to the end, WordPress ate it, and I had […]

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