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Open to RSL Members, Fellows and Friends of the Bodleian only. In person at the Weston Library, Oxford.

In 2009, British poetry lost a unique voice when Mick Imlah died at the age of 52.  

In his two collections – published 20 years apart – Imlah was revealed, as fellow poet Mark Ford noted, to have ‘a poetic sensibility that was utterly original’, his poems ‘by turns lyrical, sardonic, hilarious and unsettling’.  

In his introduction to Imlah’s Selected Poems, Alan Hollinghurst draws the reader’s attention to Imlah’s own characterisation of his first collection, Birthmarks: dealing with ‘those things – class, family, congenital strengths and weaknesses, prejudices, additions, tattoos, that people are stuck with, whether they like it or not’.  

In this event in partnership with the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where Imlah’s archive is held, the poet’s long-time friends Hollinghurst and Ford discuss the things that writers leave behind, and the things that shape their work from the first. Chairing their discussion is biographer and critic Hermione Lee, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Oxford University. 
The event will be followed by a drinks reception. 

Mark Ford teaches in the English Department at University College London. He has published four volumes of poetry, the most recent of which is Enter, Fleeing (2018). His collection of essays This Dialogue of One was the winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2015 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. 

Alan Hollinghurst is the author of six novels, including The Swimming-Pool Library, The Line of Beauty (winner of the 2004 Man Booker Prize) and, most recently, The Sparsholt Affair, partly set in wartime Oxford. He read English at Magdalen College, where he first met Mick Imlah, and was on the staff of the TLS from 1982 to 1995. He wrote the introduction to Imlah's Selected Poems published by Faber in 2010. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1995.

Hermione Lee is a literary biographer of subjects from Virginia Woolf to Edith Wharton to Penelope Fitzgerald. Her 2020 biography of Tom Stoppard was a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of the Year, and she was winner of the 2020 BIO Award for major contributions to the art of biography. From 2008 to 2017 she was President of Wolfson College Oxford, where in 2011 she founded the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, of which she is now Advisory Director. She is currently writing a life of Anita Brookner. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature, where she serves as a Trustee on its governing Council. In 2013 she was made a Dame for services to literary scholarship. 


In partnership with the Bodleian Library, Oxford.


06/04/2022 from  5:30 PM to  7:30 PM
Lecture Theatre, Weston Library
Bodleian Library
Broad Street
United Kingdom
Event Fee(s)
Member/Fellow £0.00
Guest £5.00
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