Interview: Larry Flynt, porn mogul, on the stigma around sex, that assassination attempt, and born-again Christianity

Awaiting the arrival of the porn world’s top dog, a mid-afternoon G&T in the Union bar felt like a good move. The powerhouse behind America’s unsurpassably explicit mag Hustler, countless porn films, and Hustler Casino, Larry Flynt has topped the porn hierarchy since the 70s. Dutch courage seemed wise. Hence my later surprise to find […]

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Interview – Bernard Kouchner: founding Médicins Sans Frontières and combatting genocide

Bernard Kouchner’s self-portrait as a “very young, very handsome” doctor treating Nigeria’s 1968 civil war victims was the ultimate embodiment of the comedy, tragedy, and odd streak of self-glorification that would run through his talk. Kouchner’s struggle to divide medicine and politics amidst this conflict eventually led to a hairpin turn in his life: the […]

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Demythologising Dylan: a Centenary to Rock the Boat House Legend

Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter, Hannah, admits scepticism over the ‘Dylan Myth’ amidst musings on charades and rats. A torpedo of drunken rebellion and poetic flair ultimately ended by 18 straight whiskies splashed down his throat and across the headlines? Or sensationalised simplification so overblown as to give itself away as media make-believe? Hannah Ellis is under […]

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Interview: Tom Ward

If you’re an English student who has ever played with the thought of following in the footsteps of your literary idols, you’ve probably dismissed the idea as an unrealistic, momentary craze; after all, hasn’t everyone been telling you that being an author nowadays is an insecure, unsustainable profession? If there is one person who has […]

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How frost can melt hearts: no skating on thin ice for Gillian Clarke’s sure-fire poetic pleaser

Wales’ National Poet, Gillian Clarke, talks to Sophie Baggott about Ice’s versification of the elements. With its piquantly seasonal title, Ice is the 2012 poetry collection of Gillian Clarke – the five-year reigning National Poet of Wales. Britain’s Big Freeze of ’09-10 seemingly commissioned these eclogues but, far from a weather forecast frozen in time, the book progresses […]

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Brand New Ancients: Kate Tempest whirls audiences to take the sphere of dramatic poetry by storm.

The chamber reeled, applauded, cheered, rose. The aftershock of Kate Tempest’s eighty-minute epic needed a momentary eternity to absorb. This was not poetry for pages; instead verses cascaded Homerically from this fresh-faced East Londoner in a torrent of seamy plot and urban commentary. Within minutes, something both very old and very new was felt to […]

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Austen, Bronte, Conrad…Morrissey? Bigmouth strikes again – but this time he’s right on the money.

‘Morrissey’s autobiography is a classic’. Or not. Either way, this reviewer argues that the be-quiffed behemoth of blue-collar blues has played a masterstroke in selecting the Penguin Classics imprint to publish his deliciously moody volume. This is not the act of incomprehensible egotism or marketing nous that the literary world seems to have unanimously accepted […]

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The Value of Fantasy

Often in conversation with people, when they ask me what kind of books I like and I reply fantasy, I see that just concealed twitch of the eyebrow. ‘Fantasy, you mean dragons, wizards, that sort of thing?’ No. Well, yes. Well, both. As a child, I wasn’t up to date on the latest Jacqueline Wilson, […]

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Louis de Bernières: Mandolin man makes first foray into poetry

How fleeting forty minutes can seem when spent with the self-labelled “sociable loner” Louis de Bernières. Churning out a laugh a minute, our conversation was frankly bizarre. Spanning from blackbird transsexuality to a vicar’s ghost stories, charity-function cougars to Colombian machete fights, this Cheltenham chat was one for the record books. Fresh from Louis’ poetry […]

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Chatting with the Catweazle

Artsy People, Places, and Publications within the good ol’ Oxford bubble.  This week we chat to the delightful Oxford resident Matt Sage – musician, troubadour, founder of The Catweazle Club.  This club, which recently starred in a BBC Radio 4 documentary, is “a forum for musicians, poets, storytellers, creative and performance artists of every imaginable […]

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Fall From Grace

  Oh Fresher, dear Fresher, Please pick your disgrace. You’ll despise, you’ll despair, you’ll delight in this place. Here’s my chivalrous road map to your fall from grace. Oh Fresher, poor Fresher, Accept your disgrace.   Oh love and lust and sweaty walls To the basest vulgarity of these hallowed halls. With greasy pole and […]

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