Non-fiction

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The Afterlives of Georg Trakl

  In the early 1950s, the American poet James Wright, wandered by mistake into the wrong classroom while studying at the University of Vienna and joined a seminar on the poet Georg Trakl. He describes how the professor leading the seminar read Trakl’s poems slowly, with enormous patience, in the twilit room. The only other…

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Juhani Pallasmaa: Towards an Architecture Fit for the Human Body and Spirit

The Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa has led an exemplary career, completing buildings such as the sober and sensual Finnish Cultural Centre in Paris (1991) and the vast Kamppi bus terminal in Helsinki (2003). A gregarious, generous figure, full of energy at the age of 73, he has influenced generations of architects through his teaching around…

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Alfred Polgar: the limitations of culture

“The fate of the emigrant: a foreign country cannot become a homeland. Yet the homeland becomes a foreign country.” Born in Vienna in the latter part of the 19th century, the critic and essayist Alfred Polgar died in a Zurich hotel room in 1955. Exiled by Hitler’s rise to power, and only relatively recently returned…

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Belle de Jour

It’s not enough to see Belle de Jour as an erotic classic. Such an appellation might be justified of a film preoccupied with a conventional cinematic rendering of soft focus bodies breathing heavily over a melodious soundtrack. Not so Belle de Jour. Certainly it is an erotic picture, but not for the reasons one might…

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Interview with Ciaran Carson

The interview was conducted as part of Jenny’s Ph.D. which was completed in 2013. JM In your essay “’Whose Woods These Are… ’: Some Aspects of Poetry and Translation” in the second issue of The Yellow Nib (2006), you recount how as a child you would lie awake at night saying the English word horse…

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Poetic Self-Defence

When using poetry as a method of self-defence you need to start with the basics. It’s easier to disarm or incapacitate a potential assailant with form and structure than with content. Not that content can’t have devastating effects – it can. But generally only in expert hands.   The simplest moves in poetic self-defence are…

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Pebbles of Amber Picked up on the Easternmost Edge of Eurasia

It was in 1990 when T. J. G. Harris, my mentor of poetry and a regular contributor to P N Review at that time, kindly gave me The Irish for No and Belfast Confetti, saying ‘the poet might have something.’ Through these Bloodaxe paperbacks, I was initiated to Carson’s newly invented style of long lines….