Alan Jenkins

Alan Jenkins has published six volumes of poetry, the most recent of which are A Shorter Life (2005) and Revenants (2013). He edited the Collected Poems of Ian Hamilton (2009). White Nights, a volume of his translations from French, will appear in 2015. He has taught in Paris and the United States but has lived for most of his life in London, where he works as Deputy Editor and Poetry Editor of the Times Literary Supplement.

Praise for Alan Jenkins:

"One sometimes thinks that the personal past, those childhood reveries and glints of sunlight on far-off summer lawns that FR Leavis so detested in the work of Edith Sitwell, is about all the modern English poet has left - that, and a fatal habit of parading his influences to the point where what gets written is often only a variation on an existing text. To suggest that the dominant note of Alan Jenkins's new collection is elegiac is not, in the end, to say a great deal, either about his poems, Jenkins himself or even his development as a writer. In the Hot-house (1988), his first outing - this is the fifth - came crammed with exactly the same kind of aching reminiscence: maternal shadows in the Eden-era nursery, the "flushed, unfussed, unreluctant, dapper" figure of Jenkins senior, the rueful acknowledgment of influence, the sail-boat nosing along a pre-lapsarian Thames. All these - taken out, dusted down and re-examined - contribute something to A Shorter Life's prevailing air of lamp-eyed brooding." The Guardian

"Late in this American debut by the British poet Alan Jenkins, the speaker asks himself, "Are you still that suburban / boy who dreamed of taking opium with Baudelaire / or wine with Byron?" Yes and no, the middle-aged poet seems to answer. Throughout this stylish, bitingly autobiographical collection, selected from four previous volumes dating to the late 1980s, we see how Jenkins's early idealism has been transformed by the passage of time. What remains constant is his cool, velvety use of traditional prosody and forms." The New York Times

"A Shorter Life, Alan Jenkins's fifth and best collection, finds the poet less than impressed with his behaviour. The court of the self proves implacable. It is not enough to confess: there has to be judgement, too, in the form of ineradicable self-knowledge. Confession is the mode of the American Robert Lowell of whom there are faint echoes here, while much of Jenkins's imaginative furniture is French: how interesting, then, that at times he should so strongly recall Philip Larkin who did not like Abroad but had clearly read its poets all the same." The Independent


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