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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."

Nefertiti in the flak tower - Clive James

9780871407115
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Title
Nefertiti in the flak tower - collected verse 2008-2011
Author
Clive James
format
Hardback
Publisher
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Language
English
UK Publication Date
20131029

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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Clive James (1939-2019), author of the best-selling Cultural Amnesia and Poetry Notebook, was an Officer of the Order of Australia and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. His writing appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

Mr. James is a canny poet as well as a critic and memoirist, and this elegiac book finds him confronting illness and old age with vigor and salty wit. When he writes about a dead friend, 'Your poems were the condensation trails/Of a bright mind's steady rush of soaring power,' he could be speaking of this very volume.
Dwight Garner

Type
BOOK
Edition
First American edition
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages
ix, 86

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