James Fenton

(b. 1949)

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(1949– ),

poet, born in Lincoln, educated at Magdalen College, Oxford. He has worked as a journalist, as a literary and theatre critic, and as a Far East correspondent. He was elected professor of poetry at Oxford in 1994. Though predominantly a satirist, the main stylistic influence on his work is Auden. His first collection, Terminal Moraine (1972), displayed an imagination hungry for stimulus, from politics to anthropology and horticulture. The Memory of War (1982) is similarly eclectic in its inspiration, although several pieces display sombre authority in the contemplation of war and its aftermath. Manila Envelope (1989) was published from the Philippines; All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of Asia (1989) is a collection of his reportage from Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines, including his celebrated eyewitness account of the fall of Saigon; Out of Danger (1993) won the Whitbread Award for Poetry. The Strength of Poetry: Oxford Lectures (2001, based on his lectures 1994–9) was followed by Introduction to English Poetry (2002).

Subjects: Literature.

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