Clive James Passes Away – Poetry News November 29th

In our final poetry news round-up of the week, we look at the broadcaster, poet and author Clive James who passed away at the age of 80 following a lengthy illness.

Clive James, Poet, Broadcaster and Author Dies aged 80

The Australian author broadcaster and poet Clive James has passed away at the age of 80 at his home in Cambridge. He had been battling with illness for a long time and had been diagnosed as terminally ill in 2010. He had been battling with leukaemia and emphysema.

Whilst James was best known for his witty broadcasting in recent years, he had turned his hand to poetry. In 2014, four years after his condition had been diagnosed as terminal, he wrote his first poem. The poem talked about his desire to witness the leaves on a Japanese maple tree as their colour changed. The poem was his musings on the subject of death., or as he referred to it “fading out”.

Here we reproduce a small extract of the poem:

Japanese Maple


Whilst his poetry formed some of his most recent writings, he is perhaps better known for his literary criticisms, translations and works about other poets. In total James published roughly 40 titles during a 40-year career with the publisher Picador, he was, in fact, their longest most published author. He was critically acclaimed for his recent translation of


His most recent book


was published in September. The book was inspired by his appreciation of the prose and poetry written by Larkin during his lifetime.

His final book which was finished just a few weeks before his death is planned for publication in autumn 2020 and it titled


The book is a collection of poems; a celebration of everything that James considered to be a true poet. The book is a commemoration of English poets from Chaucer right up to the modern-day.

Clive James was born in 1939 in Sydney, Australia. He attended the University of Sydney before coming to the UK where he completed his education in Cambridge at Pembroke College. During the 1970’s he landed a job as the television critic for the Observer newspaper. He later went on to become a television presenter and performer. He was a regular on both the BBC and ITV channels, as a host on chat shows and also in a number of documentaries about travel.

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1992 and in 2003 he was honoured with the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature. He added a CBE to the list in 2012 and in 2013 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.

He held two honour doctorates, from the University of East Anglia and Sydney University.

His funeral took place on Wednesday this week in Cambridge.

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