It is the most frequently used word in everyday language but remains repugnant in ever decreasing circles. There, where one dares not speak its nam(...)

Robert Pinsky: “There is a very active vital life of poetry in the US, quite contrary to the stereotype that all Americans are vulgar yahoos who don’t care about art.” Photograph: Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe/ Getty Images

The term “poet-in-residence” suggests a leisurely period of domicile: a year at a university, perhaps, or a season in some crumbling mansion by the(...)

From left, Tanya Sweeney, Kelly Kierans, Meredith Gregge and Joanne McNally in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The word “spinster” used to conjure up a vivid and not entirely flattering picture. In rural Ireland in the 20th century, spinsters were something (...)

Peter Swanson: ‘Goldfinger by Ian Fleming... was the first adult book I read. It was filled with sex and violence and it was a real page turner. I thought: Where can I get more books like this?’

Peter Swanson is the author of two novels, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, and The Kind Worth Killing (Faber & Faber, £14.99). His poems, st(...)

Lee Israel, who has died aged 75, was a professional writer who became rather better known after a trial in 1993 as an accomplished literary forger.In(...)

American artist Harry Smith in a room at the hotel in 1969. Photograph: Getty Images

‘I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel” goes Leonard Cohen’s song, marking his fondness for the hotel that served as a byword for the altern(...)

David Sedaris: ‘There is maybe one Starbucks in Melbourne. And when you go to it, and you walk back to your hotel with it? The look in people’s eyes? Scum.’ Photograph: Sonia Recchia/Getty

‘Oh shoot, I have to do that.” David Sedaris takes out his ever-present notepad – the size of a police notebook – and scribbles something down. “To th(...)

In 1923 a young American actor named Tallulah Bankhead became the most sensational star of the London stage. Having persuaded the actor and manager Ge(...)