Synopses & Reviews
Out of Danger
(1994) was Fenton's first collection of poems in ten years, and the poems in it renew and amplify the qualities of unflinching observation and freewheeling verbal play that made his earlier Children in Exile
so distinctive and distinguished. The poems in this book's title sequence address the dangers of love, and the love of danger; Fenton proposes that in love, politics, and poetry alike the truth is "something you say at your peril" and yet "something you shouldn't contain." Part II of the book, "Out of the East," is a series of ironical fight songs about political violence-- in Manila, the Middle East, Tiananmen Square, and elsewhere. Part III, "Maski Paps," reveals again Fenton's celebrated talents for light-verse nonsense. And in "The Manila Manifesto" he turns his gifts loose upon the world of poetry itself in ways that will both enrage and delight. Out of Danger
is refined and daring, jocular and deeply challenging.
"Mr. Fenton has already written four or five of the poems future anthologists will squabble over. Out of Danger
has moments of Villon, and moments where Gilbert and Sullivan are trying to overthrow Queen Victoria."--William Logan, The New York Times Book Review
"Ever since he precociously arrived on the scene in the early 1970s, barely 20, Fenton has had a voice-- a range of voices, a good pair of ears, an alert and often disconcerting knack of suddenly doing something different...Fenton has few imitators. He is sui generis, veering in [this] book from the most naked, exposed love lyrics (look at 'Serious,' 'Out of Danger') to hypnotic, cunningly crazy flights of rhetoric ('Out of the East,' 'The Ballad of the Imam and the Shah'). I feel that Fenton, with each impulse towards a new poem, has to make it new. He listens attentively to the voices in his head and, when the moment comes, it comes. And the whole dazzling performance works because the craft, the techniques have been tuned and turned and made ready. This is a wonderful book."--Anthony Thwaite, The Sunday Telegraph (London)
"Here is a strong, fresh, pleasant wind blowing away the convoluted miasmas of most of his contemporaries, and the wind carries much clearer, cleaner, more complex and intensely memorable messages than the miasmas do."--Hilary Corke, The Spectator
About the Author
The celebrated British poet and literary critic James Fenton
has been a foreign correspondent and a theater critic and has also written about the history of gardens.