Clive James Watch #12

Review of Angels over Elsinore: Collected Verse 2003-2008

Bill Greenwell in "The Independent": "Much of the verse collected here (from 2003-2008) is very funny. James can write slow-fuse poems as well as George Burns told jokes. They develop, do a little hoofing along the way, arrive at a well-timed, laconic conclusion. James being James, there is a casually rich mix of cultural allusions, but the most important quality is complete clarity. Sometimes he can be sonorous, and achieve only a slightly artificial note of grandeur, as in a poem about a painting: 'Art must choose/ What truly merits perpetuity/ From everything that we are bound to lose.' This is that fatal thing, not-quite-Larkin."

You can read the title poem of this collection here.

Essay by James
"Getting rich quick - and having much more money than you ever need - will look as pointless as taking bodybuilding too seriously, says Clive James", on the BBC News website.

In "Poetry" magazine, James has a second look at Stephen Edgar's poem, "Man on the Moon", and comes to realise why he thought it was so good on the first look.

James is interviewed about his musical interests by Paul Mardles for "The Guardian".

Unquestionably, James knows how songwriting works, having made six albums in the 70s with Pete Atkin, who wrote the folky music to his sidekick's pointed words. Now, three decades after being "blown away by punk", their back catalogue is to be reissued, encouraging James to begin writing lyrics anew. "And I think I've improved," he says, referring to his new-found uncomplicated style. "Maybe a 30-year layoff is about right."

If James has improved with age, he is hardly unique. James Taylor has grown more interesting, he says. Ditto Leonard Cohen, whom he used to find "boring". "But then I caught on that he had the secret because even then he would produce a couple of lines that were lovely, like, 'There's a funeral in the mirror and it's stopping at your face.'" He exhales, dramatically, and pulls a startled face. "I was like, 'Wow! How did he do that?'" Some of Dylan's lyrics, too, he says, invite the same response. "Yes, I'm a huge admirer." He pauses. "Well, with qualifications. I believe I'm notorious for saying that there is no stanza in a Dylan song that is all as good as its best line, and that there's no song that's all as good as its best stanza. And I think that's largely true."

In the "Haringey Independent", James wonders: "I sometimes look at my row of books and TV programmes and think, 'How did I manage to fit that all in?'"

Clive James and Robert Hughes discuss Jack Kerouac, in 1959 (!).

James recently delivered the give the first Lord Forte Memorial Lecture, under the heading "Writers on Cities". The author took Florence as his subject and Sarah Sands of "The Financial Times" was there to listen.

James will be appearing at the Cheltenham Town Hall in Gloucestershire later this year.

On February 1st, the South Bank Show was broadcast on ITV1 in the UK. It carried the following description: "Beyond the Footlights. The arts show returns with a look through the register of those students of the comedic arts who learnt their trade among the Footlights at Cambridge University. Stephen Fry, Griff Rhys Jones, John Fortune, Clive James and David Mitchell top the bill as pontificators on the influence of the Footlights on mainstream and alternative comedy. Plus a plethora of comic clips featuring alumni of this ultimate school of comedy. Presented by Melvyn Bragg."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 19, 2009 1:29 PM.

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