Collected Poems: 1944-1979

Kingsley Amis (Author) Clive James (Introduction by)


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?"

Product Details

New York Review of Books
Publish Date
June 21, 2016
4.5 X 0.5 X 6.9 inches | 0.3 pounds

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About the Author

Kingsley Amis (1922-1995) was a popular and prolific British novelist, poet, satirist, and critic. Born in suburban South London, the only child of a clerk in the office of the mustard-maker Colman's, he won an English scholarship to St John's College, Oxford, where he began a lifelong friendship with fellow student Philip Larkin. Following service in the British Army's Royal Corps of Signals during World War II, he completed his degree and joined the faculty at the University College of Swansea in Wales. Lucky Jim, his first novel, appeared in 1954 to great acclaim and won a Somerset Maugham Award. Ultimately he published twenty-four novels, including science fiction and a James Bond sequel; more than a dozen collections of poetry, short stories, and literary criticism; restaurant reviews and three books about drinking; political pamphlets and a memoir; and more. Amis received the Booker Prize for his novel The Old Devils in 1986 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990. He had three children, among them the novelist Martin Amis, with his first wife, Hilary Anne Bardwell, from whom he was divorced in 1965. After his second, eighteen-year marriage to the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard ended in 1983, he lived in a London house with his first wife and her third husband.

Clive James was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1939 and has lived in the United Kingdom since the 1960s. He is the author of numerous volumes of literary criticism, poetry, and memoir and over the course of his career has at various times hosted several successful television and radio programs. Among his most recent works are a translation of Dante's Divine Comedy and the poetry collection Sentenced to Life.


"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