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Showing posts from September, 2019

AL ALVAREZ HAS DIED IN LONDON AGED 90

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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.

He was nev…

9/11 - 18 YEARS LATER

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18 YEARS AGO, like most everyone else, I watched the planes hit the twin towers on this day, on television, and was stunned. I felt instantly this was a different level of historic event I was witnessing - the world had changed. That gets said a lot, but 9/11 was a major shift - the start of the 21st century that has led, one way or another, to where we are today.
IRONICALLY, the rise of the digital social media world, and the collapse of the banking system a decade ago, could not be foreseen then, nor Trump, Brexit, or the resurgence of Russia and China, and the relative decline of America, in the world. Nor that a Black President would be twice elected in a once slavery-owning nation.
IN SOME WAYS, 9/11 feels like a much-more-distant event, now - like Pearl Harbour, or the Charge of the Light Brigade - because the 2003 illegal war in Iraq, and then the tragic destruction in Syria, as well as the enduring Palestinian-Israeli conflict, not to mention the rise of ever-more extreme radi…