A change of place, finding a new muse, pausing on a London bridge, all can stimulate the writer's imagination again, says John Greening. From a sexual potency operation for W.B.Yeats, to Clive James’ terminal illness, there are many ways to trigger inspiration.
Should poetry be about something — other than itself? asks John Greening, considering some famous examples of works that have defied this question, as well as others which have dared to be topical, even at the risk of becoming irrelevant over time.
Charlotte Mew ought to be better known. Brittle, self-regarding and a hugely talented poet, she craved renown. Yet unlike her contemporary Virginia Woolf, Mew detested the gushing world of literary sociability: she shunned Woolf’s friendship, tripped up would-be patrons and snapped at offers of preferment. It cost Mew her reputation, says Julia Copus, but also her peace of mind.