Nefertiti in the Flak Tower: Poems

Nefertiti in the Flak Tower: Poems

by Clive James
     
 

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“Clive James is more or less the only living poet who manages to be both entertaining and moving.”—Edward Mendelson

Clive James’s renown as an internationally celebrated poet continues to expand, and there is no stronger evidence for this than Nefertiti in the Flak Tower, a collection “steeped in the lessons of Philip

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Overview

“Clive James is more or less the only living poet who manages to be both entertaining and moving.”—Edward Mendelson

Clive James’s renown as an internationally celebrated poet continues to expand, and there is no stronger evidence for this than Nefertiti in the Flak Tower, a collection “steeped in the lessons of Philip Larkin and W.B. Yeats” (London Times). Here, his polymathic learning and technical virtuosity are worn more lightly than ever; the effect is to produce a deep sense of trust into which the reader gratefully sinks, knowing they are in the presence of a master. The most obvious token of that mastery is the book’s breathtaking range of theme: there are moving elegies, a meditation on the later Yeats, a Hollywood Iliad, and odes to rare orchids, wartime typewriters, and sharks—as well as a poem on the fate of Queen Nefertiti in Nazi Germany.

Despite the dizzying variety, James’s poetic intention becomes increasingly clear: what marks this new collection is his intensified concentration on the individual poem as a self-contained universe. Poetry is a practice he compares (in “Numismatics”) to striking new coin, and Nefertiti in the Flak Tower is a treasure chest of one-off marvels, with each poem a twin-sided, perfect human balance of the unashamedly joyous and the deadly serious, “whose play of light pays tribute to the dark.”

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
12/01/2013
. POETRYA prolific Australian essayist (A Point of View) and poet (Opal Sunset) long settled in Britain, James writes traditionally fashioned verse in the realist manner of W.H. Auden and Philip Larkin: frank, melancholic, and often witty. Now in his 70s, he observes an eroding culture shamed by its past—"The language falls apart before our eyes,/ But what it once was echoes in our ears/ As poetry, whose gathered force defies/ Even the drift of our declining years"—but more often he recasts personal memory from the vantage point of age, acknowledging lost opportunities and squandered time not with regret but with a hard-won acceptance: "…the sweet embrace/ Of what your history was bound to do:/ Close in, and in due time take your place." VERDICT To contemporary American ears, James's strongly rhymed and metered lines may creak ever so slightly, but the mechanics of his craft always serve "The honour of the necessary task/ Done well, not just for show, and done for keeps." Substantive, skilled, and indeed necessary, James's poetry stands in the company of Aussie formalist masters Les Murray, A.D. Hope, and Peter Porter.—Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780871407290
Publisher:
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
10/21/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
96
File size:
0 MB

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