"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Anne Stevenson: Poetry, Youth and Age

With publishers and most media allegedly engaged in a frantic (and sometimes unintentionally comic) pursuit of the "yoof" market (forgetting that the demographics seem to point to a future hegemony of the oldies) it's interesting to see how serious writers who have already collected their bus passes deal with the topic. Yeats set up the benchmark for modern poets with his magnificent lines in "Sailing to Byzantium", one of the finest poems in his great volume The Tower (1928).

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.



Reading Anne Stevenson's new collection Stone Milk (she is 74) I have been struck by the wit and wisdom of her meditations on being old and I would strongly recommend this book. I have been commissioned to review it so I won't go into detail but if you only read one new book of poems between now and Christmas this should be it. More later.

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