The Book of My Enemy
‘If you are vacillating over whether a couple of bottles of pinot blanc might, in the short run, prove more fun than a poetry book, then just flick to the first page and the title poem of this volume. James writes with exquisite perception and surgical precision; he is a poet of powerful argument and emotional force’ – The Times.
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 emerged unarguably as one of the most prominent poets of his generation – and The Book of My Enemy (which includes Other Passports) shows why.
His other poetry collections include Collected Poems, Angels Over Elsinore and Sentenced to Life.
‘Reading these poems is like listening to a talking book, which infests the poems with personality, with that familiar braggadocio, that strictly upbeat delivery . . . The poems here have skip, insights, timing and agreeable passion’ Independent
‘Page after page of The Book of My Enemy confirms James has the primary, sine qua non gifts of a poet. He rejoices in language, and he shows enormous skill in using it’ Sunday Telegraph