James Fenton’s Paean to Mexico

Christopher Hitchens, James Fenton, Martin Amis, Paris 1979

Christopher Hitchens, James Fenton, Martin Amis, Paris 1979

Here is a beautiful prose poem by James Fenton on Mexico that celebrates attention to place, while also offering a primer on how to ignite creativity – always a solitary exercise. A friend reminds me of the story of Fenton riding on the top of a North Vietnamese army tank that breached the gates of the Presidential Palace during the fall of Saigon in 1975. Has any great poet had such a  send-off story to mark the eve of their career? His experience in Vietnam and Cambodia from summer 1973 form sections of All the Wrong Places (1988), a collection of essays.

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