Teach Yourself

A new poem

Alan Brownjohn

Will further words come with the wine
I sink alone at half-past nine,
The local grape help with all these
Grammatical necessities?
I doubt it.
    Yet this bottle gleams
With various self-improvement schemes,
And so once more I fill my glass
Quite unaware that pure disas-
ter lurks twelve hours from now…
            Drink sends
Me forward hopefully, and lends
A sense of satisfaction to
The brisk revisions I pursue
For want of more romantic ways
Of seeing out these foreign days.
Muttering verbs under one’s breath
May not disperse the fear of death
But now the air-conditioning hums,
And slowly the subjunctive comes!

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens