The highly-influential and important poetry critic, editor, anthologist, scholar, writer and poet, Alfred Alvarez (Al to friends), has just died. He was very welcoming to me when I moved to London, and we met often for a time in Hampstead and elsewhere. I arranged for him to do readings and talks for the Oxfam series, and at Kingston university. Al was a funny, gracious, helpful guy, and a great talker - a real mensch, and a one-off character with a touch of genius and more than enough brilliance and bravery. He mentored my collection - the most personal and distressing of my life - about my breakdown and despair on receiving the news I was infertile - his advice was strict and invaluable. I already miss him. Here was a guy who had been friends with Sylvia Plath, Zero Mostel, and John LeCarre, who still had time for the lesser-known, the smaller fry. That was because he was a maverick, outsider, and shit-disturber - he was frank and daring, and had great taste, but also heart.
POETRY, POLITICS, PROVOCATION AND POPULAR CULTURE SINCE 2005 - 17 YEARS AND over 5 million visits - British Library-archived