The reputation of Clive James as a poet was slow to form, perhaps because he was too famous as a star journalist and television entertainer. There was also the drawback that his poetry was so entertaining it was hard for many critics to take seriously. But after the notoriety achieved by a single self-satirizing poem, ‘The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered’, one of the most anthologized poems of recent times, James’s poetic output became impossible to ignore, and his 1985 collection Other Passports was greeted with praise for its thematic scope and technical accomplishment, even by critics who still doubted his seriousness. Since then, James has emerged unarguably as one of the most prominent poets of his generation – and The Book of My Enemy (which includes Other Passports) shows why.
Clive James is the author of more than forty books. As well as essays, he has published collections of literary and television criticism, travel writing, verse and novels, plus five volumes of autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs, Falling Towards England, May Week Was In June, North Face of Soho and The Blaze of Obscurity. As a television performer he appeared regularly for both the BBC and ITV, most notably as writer and presenter of the Postcard series of travel documentaries. His popular Radio 4 series A Point of View has been published in volume form. He has also published several poetry collections, a verse commentary of Proust, Gate of Lilacs, and a translation of Dantes The Divine Comedy. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003 he was awarded the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature. He holds honorary doctorates from Sydney University and the University of East Anglia. In 2012 he was appointed CBE and in 2013 an Officer of the Order of Australia.