“This marvelous anthology ranging over six centuries about one of the great cities of the world is not only a delight to read, but also a revelation: Who would have suspected that there were so many memorable poems written about London by poets one tends to identify with other interests? Starting with Mark Ford’s informative and thoroughly enjoyable introduction, we go from surprise to surprise turning the pages of this book, very much like someone taking in the sights of a city he was not familiar with, or has long known, and is now discovering to his astonishment, as if for the first time.”—Charles Simic“
A volume that holds a poetic mirror up to London—and how does she look? Sublime and squalid, high-born and street-smart, worthy of a sonnet and fit only for doggerel. This irresistible collection captures 600 years of the city’s vibrant many-voiced chorus. A gem.”—Zadie Smith
“This vivid, vibrant and vital anthology takes us into the heart and history of Eliot’s ‘unreal city’, poem by poem. Mark Ford has gathered together poems born of London, in conversation with London, in combat with London, in awe of London, most of which were first published in London, centre of print and power. Covering six and a half centuries of wandering, whoring, watching, drinking, dancing, praying, building, courting, and cursing, here can be found Wordsworth’s ‘endless stream of men and moving things’, even when, as Fleur Adcock puts it, ‘the traffic’s as abominable as ever’. Packed as the Underground, this is as essential a guide to London as the A–Z.”—Frances Wilson
"...the boy Ford done good, has done us proud, has played a blinder. I have never come across a London anthology... as rich, as bold, as multifarious as this... Olympic visitors should lug this brick back home for a pungent souvenir of the original "maximum city" in all it grot and grandeur..." Boyd Tonkin, The independent, Saturday 21 July 2012 "...a magnificent collection revealing the capital in all its splendour and squalor." The Sunday Telegraph, Sunday 17 June 2012 "[A] quite wonderful and ceaselessly evocative anthology of London verse... a guide to the city's authentically enduring soul.... this is a fantastically easy volume to dip in and out of." Sinclair McKay, The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 30 June 2012
About the Author
Mark Ford is a poet and Professor of English at University College London. Like many of the poets whose work he collects in London, Ford brings an outsider's perspective. A native of Nairobi, Kenya, he first came to London for schooling. He holds a B.A. and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford and has studied at Harvard University and has taught at the University of Kyoto.
Ford has published widely on nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first century British, American, and French literature. He is particularly interested in the idea of "The City"-that is, aspects of the cultural and literary history of the metropolis-and he is active in UCL's City Centre series.
A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, Ford has written on Ted Hughes, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Walt Whitman, W.H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, Nicholas Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Marilynne Robinson, Flannery O'Connor, Randall Jarrell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, Georges Perec, and Javier Marìas. Selected reviews and essays have been published in A Driftwood Altar (2005) and Mr and Mrs Stevens and Other Essays (2011).