Share this page

Share this page Bookmark and Share


! Missing Player !
To listen to the Archive's recordings, software called Adobe Flash Player (version 10) needs to be installed on your computer and you need to enable JavaScript in your browser settings.

Adobe Flash Player can be downloaded, free of charge, here.


Select bibliography

  • The Metropolitan Critic, Faber and Faber 1974
  • The Fate of Felicity Fark in the Land of the Media : a moral poem, Jonathan Cape 1975
  • Peregrine Prykke's Pilgrimage Through the London Literary World, Jonathan Cape 1976
  • Britannia Bright's Bewilderment in the Wilderness of Westminster, Jonathan Cape 1976
  • Fan-mail: seven verse letters, Faber and Faber 1977
  • Visions Before Midnight: television criticism from the Observer 1972-76, Jonathan Cape 1977
  • At the Pillars of Hercules, Faber and Faber 1979
  • Unreliable Memoirs, Jonathan Cape 1980
  • Charles Charming's Challenges on the Pathway to the Throne, Jonathan Cape 1981
  • The Crystal Bucket: television criticism from the Observer 1976-79, Johathan Cape 1981
  • From the Land of Shadows, Jonathan Cape 1982
  • Poem of the Year, Jonathan Cape 1983
  • Glued to the Box: television criticism from the Observer 1979-82, Jonathan Cape 1983
  • Flying Visits: Postcards from the Observer 1976-83, Jonathan Cape 1984
  • Other Passports: poems 1958-1985, Picador 1986
  • Snakecharmers in Texas: essays 1980-87, Jonathan Cape 1988
  • The Silver Castle, Jonathan Cape 1996
  • Reliable Essays, Picador 2001
  • Even As We Speak, Picador 2001
  • Always Unreliable, Picador 2001
  • The Book of My Enemy, Picador 2003
  • As of this Writing, Norton 2003
  • The Meaning of Recognition, Picador 2005
  • North Face of Soho, Picador 2006
  • Cultural Amnesia, Norton 2007
  • Opal Sunset: Selected Poems 1958-2008, Norton 2008
  • Poems from the Book of My Enemy, Macmillan Digital Audio 2008
  • Angels over Elsinore, Picador 2008
  • The Artificial Horizon: Volume Two of Poems from the Book of My Enemy, Macmillan Digital Audio 2008
Clive James (b. 1939, Sydney) is well known to UK audiences for work throughout the cultural sphere. His career as a poet has continued alongside work that is, perhaps, more high-profile - he is the author of more than thirty books, a well-known journalist and critic, and a familiar face from television - but his biography includes the literary editorship of his university paper, honorary degrees from the universities of Sydney and East Anglia, and the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal. He has written, however, "I can only wonder, looking back, if my name as a poet might not have made quicker progress had I been less notorious for the other things."

James' poetry shares the range of interest in those "other things." On this recording, for example, there are pieces that draw on the same sardonic humour that characterises his television work, such as 'Bring Me the Sweat of Gabriela Sabatini', and others that turn to the literary strand of his career, as 'A Valediction for Philip Larkin'. This allows for creative misleadings; the Blade Runner reference of 'Deckard Was a Replicant' suggests a poem based on film criticism, but in fact the piece that follows touches on nature, aging, love and art.

The importance of form to James is clear from his frequent use of rhyme and metrical effects, from the strict pentameter of 'Lucretius the Diver' to the deliberate irregularities of 'The Artificial Horizon'. He is also drawn to longer poems, such as 'The Great Wrasse', written for Les Murray's sixtieth birthday, which demands space for its meditations on memory, on the eponymous fish in its reef, on the dedicatee and on "Those new and strange and lovely living things," his poems.

As would be expected from a broadcasting professional, James' delivery is polished, and moves from irony to sincerity with the same ease as his writing. It allows its audience to hear the poet's commitment to his assertion that a poem "ought to be something that could be recited and performed: something entertaining in the first instance." The New York Times wrote that James "knows how to write poems worth reading"; this recording shows that he also knows how to read poems worth writing.

These recordings are taken from The Artificial Horizon: Poems from The Book of my Enemy read by Clive James, available from Macmillan Digital Audio.


2003 Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal

Search for a poem or a poet:

My Archive

Create lists of your favourite poems and poets and share them with friends.

Browse all poets by name

View all poets

Browse all poems by title

View all poems

Glossary of poetic terms

View full glossary
Historic recordings Hear famous voices from poetry's past.

View all historic recordings
Support The Poetry Archive The Poetry Archive depends on donations from public bodies and private individuals. Find out how you can contribute to the work of the Archive.