Philip Larkin - Poetry, Politics, Love and Jazz - Ian Smith

Ian Smith [+-]
Writer, Broadcaster and Musician
Ian Smith has lectured on literature, film and cultural theory at the Universities of Oxford, Boston, Warwick, London, and Kingston. He has also worked as a professional jazz musician for many years. This musical work includes composing and performing settings of Larkin poems for BBC Radio 3; settings that formed part of the stage show “Larkin’s Jazz”, presented at UK literary and jazz festivals. He has published and broadcast regularly on literature, jazz, and cultural politics.His play, Blood Count, exploring the complex relationship and creative partnership of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2015 and 2016. His study of Harold Pinter, Pinter in the Theatre, is published by Nick Hern books (2005).


Larkin grows up in Coventry, and aspires to cultural significance while feeling marginalised and disenfranchised. Poetry and jazz offer him an inter-related sense of the expressive and even emancipatory potential of the arts. Literature becomes his academic subject. This offers more than a possible career in either writing or teaching. At that time, academic English was the only forum in British intellectual life where connections were made between contemporary society and an eclectic set of intellectual ideas ranging from cultural history through anthropology, psychoanalysis, and beyond. Nevertheless, and ironically for a great poet, it was music that was the emotional and spiritual Jacob’s Ladder. Jazz was the art that “sent” him somewhere above and beyond his oppressive surroundings.

Notify A Colleague


Smith, Ian. 1922-1940. Philip Larkin - Poetry, Politics, Love and Jazz. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2019. ISBN 9781781798102. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=36497. Date accessed: 14 Oct 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.36497. Sep 2019

Dublin Core Metadata