PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing ‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Oxford University Press
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Kei Miller on poetry and volume control Parwana Fayyaz's Afghan poems Gabriel Josipovici bids farewell to Aharon Appelfeld Craig Raine plants a flag A.R. Ammons from two angles

This report is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.

A Flamingo in Cemetery Road Neil Powell

What will survive of us is jazz. Of the assorted events and publications marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Philip Larkin’s death, the four CDs of Larkin’s Jazz in the Proper Box series seem in some ways truest to the man. I feel less enthusiastic about Hull’s celebratory toads: the toad was Larkin’s image for his job, without which he couldn’t have coped, but ‘Give me your arm, old toad; / Help me down Cemetery Road’ isn’t an entirely reassuring endorsement, even from one who often relished glumness. Jazz, on the other hand, was Larkin’s great glumness-disperser, his excursion-ticket to a toad-free world, and the wonder is that it didn’t let him down until deafness cruelly cut him off from it. Much of the jazz he liked best was straightforward and extrovert, often with a hint of jokiness about it: he was an exception to the rule that melancholic music-lovers tend to enjoy those sad, introverted pieces which tell us we’re not alone. ‘I have a weakness for the entertainers of jazz,’ he said, adding in a typically wry parenthesis, ‘(as opposed to more sombre characters who suggest by their demeanour that I am lucky to hear them)’. His jazz has the courage, as he hadn’t, to cry Stuff your pension! And, while you’re about it, you can stuff that toad as well.

Wary of the wrong sort of seriousness – the kind that turns jazz into a subject for academic study and its insufferable po-faced jargon – ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image