James Fenton's Poetry
Support for studying English GCSE and A Level
James Fenton - Biography
James Fenton was born (Lincoln, England) on 25 April 1949. He is a poet, journalist, essayist, art critic, and theatre reviewer. He was Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1994 to 1999.
Fenton was educated at Repton and Magdalen College, Oxford. Here he won the prestigious Newdigate Prize for his poem Our Western Furniture. Fenton pursued a career in journalism (foreign correspondent) after studying at Oxford.
The Independent on Sunday, in 2007, referred to him as one of the "100 most influential gay and lesbian people in Britain". He has contributed to The Guardian, The Independent and The New York Review of Books on numerous occasions.
James Fenton - 'In Paris with You' - Annotation
Annotation prompts for James Fenton’s ‘In Paris with You’.
‘In Paris with You’ the persona in the poem seems to have recently been in a relationship with someone that was unsuccessful. His or her most recent liaison takes place in Paris. The poem is written in the format of a dramatic monologue. Fenton (born 25.04.1949) an English poet / journalist / literary critic / former Oxford Professor of Poetry (1994-99). He was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2007.
Is the persona reluctant to fall in love after being hurt previously? Is this why the word “Paris” could be substituted for love? Is it ironic, considering the associations with Paris?
Is this poem somewhat voyeuristic? Are we eavesdropping on an intimate conversation – albeit only one side of it? Fenton is homosexual and recognised as one of the finest poets of his generation. Do you think this is an autobiographical account? Evaluate the contemporary resonance of the poem.
The annotation prompts are a supportive tool, intended to encourage further poetry analysis and interpretation.