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A Kind of Journal

P.J. Kavanagh

Cover Picture of A Kind of Journal
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • In 1983 the poet P.J. Kavanagh was asked by the Spectator to write a weekly column, for a month. Thirteen years later he was still at it, though now writing longer, monthly pieces. When he moved to The Times Literary Supplement he continued the process of helping to revive and revitalise the once-popular form of the wide-ranging essay. Peter Levi said he was 'at his best as good as Hazlitt'.
        'If description is revelation,' Derek Mahon said of Kavanagh's poems, 'his revelatory gift is prodigious', and many of these pieces are like that in their inventive clarity, their just enthusiasm. They add up to a kind of journal, a life shared. Of his earlier book of prose pieces, People and Places, critics said: 'as addictive as unpredictable' (Spectator) and 'a lucky-dip of delights, stained-glass pictures of his experience' (Country Life).
    P.J. Kavanagh was born in England in 1931, and worked as a lecturer, actor and broadcaster, as well as a writer. His Collected Poems were published in 1992, the year in which he was given the Cholmondeley Award for poetry. His memoir The Perfect Stranger won the Richard Hillary Prize in ... read more
    Praise for P.J. Kavanagh 'To hear the truth so devastatingly and yet so joyfully encountered is rare in an age where autobiography has been flattened by the massed weight of political and public reminiscence. This autobiography, from its beginning to its bitter end, is a celebration of joy: joy in youth, in woman, in male camaraderie, in the struggle of art, in married love.'
    Times Literary Supplement 
    'There is plenty of quietly glittering intellect in these poems... he has an eye for rural things, birds, plants, weather; all are subdued to the colour of his own mind, its knowledge of loss, its recurrent perception of the world as a place to which it belongs and does not belong... this collection amply demonstrates Kavanagh's distinguished place among contemporary poets.'
    Frank Kermode
    'The pleasure of reading these poems is the pleasure of exceptionally good company. Kavanagh has exactly the right kind of curiosity - neither pedantic nor trifling, but casual in the best sense.'
    Wynn Wheldon, Spectator
    'There is plenty of quietly glittering intellect in these poems... he has an eye for rural things, birds, plants, weather; all are subdued to the colour of his own mind, its knowledge of loss, its recurrent perception of the world as a place to which it belongs and does not belong... this collection amply demonstrates Kavanagh's distinguished place among contemporary poets.'
    Frank Kermode
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