James Fenton

James Fenton is a British poet and literary critic. From 1994 until 1999, Fenton was Oxford Professor of Poetry; in 2015 he was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize. His latest book is Yellow Tulips: Poems, 1968–2011.

  • What I Mean by Mexico

    February 25, 2015

    One says of any great subject as yet untackled—Mexico, for instance—Oh, that’s such a big undertaking, that’s going to need such preparation. Then something happens and you just have to go in there anyway.

  • Two Kinds of Magic at Radio City & Lincoln Center

    July 18, 2011

    Who knows in how many directorial breasts a conflict rages between a desire for intimacy and the yearning for the very grandest of effects? On the one hand, there is the ambition to mount, in the smallest of theaters, a drama of the most intense kind, in which the actors are never obliged to raise their voices to suit the acoustics of the space, because nothing is going to be missed. Working through improvisation, perhaps, or through other revered techniques of self-discovery, the performers arrive at dangerous levels of intensity and verisimilitude.

  • 'The Book of Mormon': No Offense

    June 11, 2011

    Hearing that the same men who brought us South Park were mounting a musical to be called The Book of Mormon, we were tempted to turn away, as from an inevitable massacre. How could the Mormon faith, with its wobbly stories of golden tablets dug up and then lost to view, its pseudo-archaeological racism, its prevarications over the practice of polygamy, its almost exact resemblance to a cult, stand up to all that gleeful juvenile ragging?

  • A Heavy Vase of Irony, Broken Over Our Heads

    May 13, 2011