by Kingsley Amis, introduction by Clive James
Kingsley Amis’s poetry tackles all the grimly humorous subjects he tackled in his novels—lust, lost love, booze, money and the lack of it, old age, death—and does so with immense formal poise. A master of both traditional and unconventional meters with a perfect ear for parody, Amis wrote satires, epigrams, and rueful and scornful songs that are remarkable not only for their virtuosity and humor but for their scabrous realism. It all adds up to a small, entirely individual, and memorably bracing body of work. As Amis writes: “Beauty, they tell me, is a dangerous thing, / Whose touch will burn, but I’m asbestos, see?”
Amis wrote the sort of poems that have long fallen out of fashion: bare-knuckled, witty, light but never ‘lite,’ outward-looking instead of inward-gazing–a kind of red-blooded vers de société that is in a league with E. A. Robinson’s poignant cameos and ‘Eros Turannos’; with Auden’s ‘Miss Gee,’ ‘On the Circuit,’ and ‘Who’s Who’; and with the poems of his friends and fellow Movement poets Robert Conquest and Philip Larkin.
– David Yezzi, The New Criterion
Simply one of our best poets.
—The Daily Telegraph