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This article is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.

Adam Johnson Neil Powell

It was a cool Wednesday evening in November 1985, and we were gathering at Dillon's to launch the GMP anthology Not Love Alone. I'd persuaded a publisher friend, Roger Walton, to lend his moral support: after a couple of drinks in the Museum Tavern, we felt as ready as we'd ever be to face the evening. When we arrived at the bookshop, it turned out that as many of the poets included as were present - half a dozen or so of us - were to read, in alphabetical order, once the publisher's plonk had done its work.What I hadn't anticipated was that this particular alphabet would end with P. Listening to the others, I decided we'd better finish with something a bitsubstantial, scrapped my planned two or three short pieces, and chose instead a single solidpoem called 'Studies.' It seemed to go down well enough, and afterwards two members of the audience - a strikingly attractive boy and his blond friend- approached me: 'That was the only real poem anyone's read this evening,' said the friend (he may have said the same to others). I thought of Auden's encounter with those two students in New York, his famous exclamation to Isherwood: 'It's the wrong blond!'

But if Chester Kallman was the right blond, so was Adam Johnson. His friend, not keen on poetry vanished; while he joined Roger and me on a cheerful trek to the Lamb and Flag. He'd dressed with a sort of Oxfam ...


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