Clive James's rewn as an internationally celebrated poet continues to expand, and there is stronger evidence for this than Nefertiti in the Flak Tower, a collection steeped in the lessons of Philip Larkin and W.B. Yeats (London Times). Here, his polymathic learning and technical virtuosity are worn more lightly than ever; the effect is to produce a deep sense of trust into which the reader gratefully sinks, kwing they are in the presence of a master. The most obvious token of that mastery is the book's breathtaking range of theme: there are moving elegies, a meditation on the later Yeats, a Hollywood Iliad, and odes to rare orchids, wartime typewriters, and sharks-as well as a poem on the fate of Queen Nefertiti in Nazi Germany. Despite the dizzying variety, James's poetic intention becomes increasingly clear: what marks this new collection is his intensified concentration on the individual poem as a self-contained universe. Poetry is a practice he compares (in Numismatics ) to striking new coin, and Nefertiti in the Flak Tower is a treasure chest of one-off marvels, with each poem a twin-sided, perfect human balance of the unashamedly joyous and the deadly serious, whose play of light pays tribute to the dark.
Born in Australia, Clive James lives in Cambridge, England. He is the author of Unreliable Memoirs; a volume of selected poems, Opal Sunset; the best-selling Cultural Amnesia; and the translator of The Divine Comedy by Dante. He has written for the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.