James Martin Fenton (born 25 April 1949, Lincoln) is an English poet, journalist and literary critic. He is a former Oxford Professor of Poetry.
Born in Lincoln, Fenton grew up in Lincolnshire and Staffordshire, the son of Canon John Fenton, a noted biblical scholar. He was educated at the Durham Choristers School, Repton and Magdalen College, Oxford. He graduated with a B.A. in 1970.
Fenton acquired at school an enthusiasm for the work of W.H. Auden. At Oxford John Fuller, who happened to be writing A Reader's Guide to W.H. Auden at the time, further encouraged that enthusiasm. Auden became possibly the greatest single influence on Fenton's own work.
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James Fenton Poems
In Paris With You
Don't talk to me of love. I've had an earful And I get tearful when I've downed a drink or two. I'm one of your talking wounded. I'm a hostage. I'm maroonded.
God, A Poem
A nasty surprise in a sandwich, A drawing-pin caught in your sock, The limpest of shakes from a hand which You'd thought would be firm as a rock,
This is the wind, the wind in a field of corn. Great crowds are fleeing from a major disaster Down the green valleys, the long swaying wadis, Down through the beautiful catastrophe of wind.
A German Requiem
It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down. It is not the houses. It is the spaces in between the houses. It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist. It is not your memories which haunt you.
Quotationsmore quotations »
''The lullaby is the spell whereby the mother attempts to transform herself back from an ogre to a saint.''James Fenton (b. 1949), British poet, critic. "Ars Poetica," no. 7, Independent on Sunday (London, March 11, 1990).
''The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.''James Fenton (b. 1949), British poet, critic. Ars Poetica, no. 22, Independent on Sunday (London, June 24, 1990).
''Imitation, if it is not forgery, is a fine thing. It stems from a generous impulse, and a realistic sense of what can and cannot be done.''James Fenton (b. 1949), British poet, critic. "Ars Poetica," no. 47, Independent on Sunday (London, Dec. 16, 1990).
''One does not become a guru by accident.''James Fenton (b. 1949), British poet, critic. Times (London, Aug. 9, 1984). Referring to playwright Samuel Beckett.
Comments about James Fenton
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In Paris With You
Don't talk to me of love. I've had an earful
And I get tearful when I've downed a drink or two.
I'm one of your talking wounded.
I'm a hostage. I'm maroonded.
But I'm in Paris with you.
Yes I'm angry at the way I've been bamboozled
And resentful at the mess I've been through.
I admit I'm on the rebound
And I don't care where are we bound.
I'm in Paris with you.
Do you mind if we do not go to the Louvre
If we say sod off to sodding Notre Dame,
If we skip the Champs Elysées
And remain here in this sleazy
Old hotel room
Doing this ...