Nefertiti in the Flak Tower

Clive James

12 April 2012
96 pages


Collecting verse written in the years 2008–2011, Nefertiti in the Flak Tower sees Clive James approach his later years with the same technical versatility, emotional poignancy and lightly-worn erudition as defined his career.

Across a breathtaking range of themes, there are moving elegies, a meditation on the later W.B. Yeats, a Hollywood Iliad, odes to rare orchids, wartime typewriters and sharks – as well as a poem on the fate of Queen Nefertiti in Nazi Germany.

What marks this collection out is his intensified concentration on the individual poem as self-contained universe. Poetry is a practice he compares (in 'Numismatics') to striking new coin; in Nefertiti in the Flak Tower each poem is a twin-sided balance of the unashamedly joyous and the deadly serious, 'whose play of light pays tribute to the dark'.

Clive James (1939–2019) was a broadcaster, critic, poet, memoirist and novelist. His acclaimed poetry includes the collection Sentenced to Life and a translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy, both Sunday Times bestsellers. His passion for and knowledge of poetry are distilled in his book of criticism on the subject, Poetry Notebook, and, written in the last year of his life, his personal annotated anthology of favourite poems, The Fire Of Joy.

Praise for Clive James:

'He will be seen, I think, as one of the most important and influential writers of our time' – Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

'Wise, witty, terrifying, unflinching and extraordinarily alive' – A.S. Byatt, critic and author of Possession: A Romance

'Clive James is a true poet' – Peter Porter, London Review of Books

Clive James is a true poet