Hatchet Jobs Mcclean Professor of Poetry

Published on July 24th, 2013


Peter Kemp VS The Professor of Poetry by Grace McCleen

Peter Kemp in The Sunday Times flunked The Professor of Poetry, the latest offering from Grace McCleen, last year’s winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize.

“Homage to the professor’s enthusiasm for the musicality of language is often artily audible (“shriek of gulls, reek of surf, slap of hulls, tolling of bells, mulling of swells”). Her disregard for meaning leaves its imprint, too (“the future winked gnomically from the dawn of the world”). The prose lurches from the portentous (branches are “fibres of some eternal matter imploring ­mediation”) to Walt Disney-like sentimentality (“kisses…flew out of the open window and fluttered over the roofs”). Wildly exorbitant in style, The Professor of Poetry is as overwritten as its heroine is overwrought.”

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