"There is no centre anymore. We live in a multipolar world, and culture reflects that." Fatima Bhutto
Contexts
Crossroads to the past

Crossroads to the past

“From time to time, God causes men to be born – and thou art one of them – who have a lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover news – to-day it may be of far-off things, tomorrow of some hidden mountain.” Rudyard Kipling, Kim The great twelfth-century traveller Ibn...
Truth in sculpture

Truth in sculpture

Sometime between the 4th and the 3rd century BC, Poseidippus of Pella wrote the following epigram on the art of breathing life into stone, as he describes the statue of the poet Philitas of Cos by Hekataion: He fashioned the elderly pedant using all his craft, and in accordance with the proper rule of truth....
Love on the beat

Love on the beat

Singer Roxanne Fontana tells a story about her first visit to New York’s CBGBs nightclub in the fall of 1976. Having read in a music magazine about the bourgeoning rock scene on the Bowery in Manhattan, Roxanne took a subway into the city and visited the club in the middle of the day (being underage,...
It's about time

It’s about time

Periods of calmness and peace are often likened to infinity; when the passage of time is blissfully suspended, or sublimely extended beyond the limits of human reckoning or reason. Times of crisis, on the other hand, such as war, are characterised by the particular effect they have on the very notion and substance of time....
The hunter who crossed a continent

The hunter who crossed a continent

The last hunter in the village of Lalaoran, which in my dialect of Paiwanese means “the first ray of dawn’s light”, has pairs of hand and feet that were given to him by the ancestors, and he has wisdom that helps him coexist with the mountain. When I was a boy, what I liked to...
Dante's nose

Dante’s nose

Early in the morning of September 1321, Dante died of malaria in Ravenna. Looking at the images (pictorial or sculptural) that we have of him, and considering the corpus of his work, especially the impact he was to have on our understanding of European culture in the centuries to come, one would think this would...
Here and there

Here and there

One of the things we do as poets is to try to preserve experiences, people, places important to us, in an effort to save them from time’s erasure. In Passport to Here and There, I’ve been more conscious of this than in some of my other books and felt that a short introduction to my...
Modern fiction

Modern fiction

Reading Andrea Marcolongo’s The Ingenious Language: Nine Epic Reasons to Love Greek in certain ways lives up to its English title in providing an epic experience (the Italian original’s simpler 9 ragioni… emphasises the more light-heartedly catchy, yet didactic underpinnings of the text, rather than its epic claims, significance or proportions). As Marcolongo reminds us...
How Boris Johnson ruined my book launch (and Vladimir Nabokov restored it)

How Boris Johnson ruined my book launch (and Vladimir Nabokov restored it)

There’s a persistent aftertaste to bad timing. Just ask someone born on 11 September 2001, or the brides and grooms of late November 1963, after JFK’s visit to Dallas. Better yet, consider Vladimir Nabokov, whose novel The Real Life of Sebastian Knight – not nearly as famous as Lolita but arguably on par with it...
Short cuts

Short cuts

The judges of the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award have winnowed down a shortlist of six from almost 1,000 entries. Louise Kennedy, who was shortlisted in 2019, makes the final round a second time, having since secured a two-book deal with Bloomsbury that will kick off with the collection The End of the...