An unsettling meditation on the mental disarrangements of encroaching senility manages a rare balancing of poetry and comedyAs a poet, Clive James shares some qualities with the English “Movement” writers, and an intellectual affinity with his compatriot Peter Porter. Typically, James combines traditional, often stanzaic, structures with glitteringly modern diction. Like a new Augustan, he can spin a verse-essay to engage mental gears contemporary poetry tends to neglect. And, notwithstanding some Larkinesque melancholy, he can make us laugh. This week’s poem, “Lock Me Away”, reflects both his comic talent and his agility in free verse when the latter suits his purpose. It’s from a collection I’ve re-read with inexhaustible enjoyment over the four years since publication, Opal Sunset.Writing comic poetry is a rare skill. Performance poets (with a few honourable exceptions) seem to imagine their excruciatingly clumsy rhymes are all just part of the fun. There are beautifully-crafted comic poems-for-the-page, of course; Wendy Cope, John Fuller, Kit Wright and John Whitworth have written some of them. What’s unusual, though, in English poetry, is a comic poem which doesn’t depend on rhyme and metre to be funny.”Lock Me Away” is not, of course, only comic but it fends off the potential …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books