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Making up

Julian Symons, 15 August 1991

Lipstick, Sex and Poetry 
by Jeremy Reed.
Peter Owen, 119 pp., £14.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0817 1
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A poet could not but be gay 
by James Kirkup.
Peter Owen, 240 pp., £16.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0823 6
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There was a young man from Cardiff 
by Dannie Abse.
Hutchinson, 211 pp., £12.99, April 1991, 0 09 174757 0
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String of Beginners 
by Michael Hamburger.
Skoob Books, 338 pp., £10.99, May 1991, 1 871438 66 7
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... down to a beach where men sunbathe nude. He is androgynous, 16, ‘looking for a new species’. James Kirkup also admits to androgyny and to a passion for make-up, from childhood when he experimented with his mother’s make-up box, through the time when, as head of the English Department at the Bath Academy of Art, he appeared in his own play for ...

Hell, he’ll be frozen stiff!

Michael Hofmann: Michel the Giant, 7 April 2022

Michel the Giant: An African in Greenland 
by Tété-Michel Kpomassie, translated by James Kirkup.
Penguin, 328 pp., £9.99, February, 978 0 241 55453 1
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... get their story straight? (The translation, by the way, perhaps appositely, is by the late James Kirkup, a British expatriate poet who is best known for his work from the Japanese and who died in Andorra.)Kpomassie stays with people up and down the social scale. He gives gorgeous descriptions of lengthening days, shortening days, the Northern ...

Private Lives

Ray Monk, 22 November 1990

... Dora Russell in the light of that belief.Something similar, I suspect, is going on in the case of James Kirkup. I was alerted to the case of Kirkup by a letter to the Independent from Christopher Sykes, a television producer whom I met when he was making a programme about Wittgenstein for the BBC series, Horizon, which ...

Love Stories

Edmund White, 4 November 1993

To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life: A Novel 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Quartet, 246 pp., £12.95, November 1991, 9780704370005
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The Man in the Red Hat 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 111 pp., £12.95, May 1993, 0 7043 7046 8
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The Compassion Protocol 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 202 pp., £13.95, October 1993, 9780704370593
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... of a journal that I most strongly feel that I am writing fiction’). Beautifully translated by James Kirkup, the book brings together themes such as Guibert’s intermittent fight to survive, his continuing struggle to write, to deal with his parents, to find the proper treatment, even to accept his rapid ageing (‘In 1990 I am 95, although I was ...

Son of God

Brigid Brophy, 21 April 1983

by Robert Liebert.
Yale, 447 pp., £25, January 1983, 0 300 02793 1
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The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse 
edited by Stephen Coote.
Penguin, 410 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 14 042293 5
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... everyone you might, after considerable searching, expect, including Sappho, Katherine Philips and James Kirkup (represented by two poems and a note simply stating why the text of the blasphemy-case poem is not printed), and some (to me at least) surprises, such as Wordsworth, Alcuin, Edmund Waller and Sir John Waller (‘b. 1917’). Dr Coote has the ...


Frank Kermode: Blasphemy, 14 January 2002

Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the 17th to the 19th Century 
by Alain Cabantous, translated by Eric Rauth.
Columbia, 288 pp., £21.50, February 2002, 0 231 11876 7
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... whether to believe it, but am told it is even now a criminal offence to own a copy of the poem by James Kirkup that upset Mrs Whitehouse. Would one be guilty of blasphemy? So nobody can say exactly what blasphemy means in our world, only that it is, from case to case, whatever the judges decide. Etymologically the word, of Greek origin, has to do with ...

The World of School

John Bayley, 28 September 1989

The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... Listener which continued until 1959. He then set off for Japan, having made friends with the poet James Kirkup, who claimed to have put the evil eye on the arrogant (though highly readable) historian H.A.L. Fisher, who was immediately mown down by a bus. Ackerley had been seeking for years ‘the perfect friend’ and never finding him, partly because of ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... a private prosecution against the magazine on a charge of blasphemous libel because of a poem by James Kirkup it had published which described Jesus having sex with a variety of men, including Pontius Pilate. John Mortimer and Geoffrey Robertson appeared for the defence, but lost. Gay News was fined and its publisher given a suspended prison ...

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