Five Dials

A free literary magazine from Hamish Hamilton

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We Do Not Use The Word Lightly

For years I have been an illicit cultivator of neglected patches of public land. I ‘fight the filth with forks and flowers’ and until now had never been confronted with the choice between arrest and retreat.

Number 41 | How Can This Be Possible?

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Walking Urge

I’ve heard people say that in your dreams you can never have any control over the light. And that if you want to know for sure whether or not you’re dreaming, you have to try turning the light off or on.
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Four Poems by Mustafa Stitou

On leaving the bar I heard / a painter say that astronauts / often grew up without a father.
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She

He loved her so much he doesn’t believe it now; he laughs about it, a long, hard and cynical laugh. It is the laugh of someone who has lost.
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Table Talk

Table Talk (consisting of three poems) 1 When people talk about people they say ‘they’. They do it over the starters. You’re sitting betw... Read more
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How The Light Gets In

If you really want to encourage people to read literature, you’re better off adding a certain mystique. Because the secret the writer is faced with, the secret of language and of reality, is shared by the reader.

Of Immediate Interest

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Dark Man at the Airport

I followed dutifully to a metal table where the men unzipped my suitcase, because they could unzip my suitcase if they wanted, they could search me if they wanted, they could detain me if they wanted.
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Variations on Anne

If the poem is an enigma. If the poem does not offer a solution. If the solution does exist and someone calls out that you must find it. ... Read more
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Why Birches Have Silver Bark

'Birch trees did not always have silver bark. There was a time when their trunks were the grey-brown of most other trees. It was sex that changed things. It always does.'
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A Change of Climate

'Snubbed by her cheerfulness like a loud door / how can I greet her without adjustments? / So when she’s gone I always stray / after her temperament, her air – / hoping to keep step with her in her absence.'
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Annie Hall

'I can’t help feeling like he’s dismantled the very admirable legacy of his earlier work by his later, overly prolific efforts. It’s a more benign version of Ralph Nader.'
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Trees

Donwood frequently collaborates with the band Radiohead and its lead singer, Thom Yorke. In 2002 he and Yorke won a Grammy for the special edition of the album Amnesiac. Here: his favorite trees.

Our Town

Dispatches from London

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My Father’s House

Every summer we were ordered out into the garden with machetes to chop down the grass, which grew above our heads. We loathed having to spend summer days in manual labour, but we never dared question our father’s authority.
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The Fight for Broken Britain

For a place teeming with the ghosts of empire, hard labour, hard liquor, sailors and prostitutes, it’s almost unbearably tranquil. This Britain isn’t broken: it’s just quiet to the point of being unsettling.
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What Goes Around

'Riding past a crowded pavement on a hot day, swallowing consecutive gusts of perfume, sunscreen, cigarette smoke, and sometimes even halitosis, you realize just how helplessly intimate we all are in this city.'
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Virginia Woolf in the Bomb-scarred City

'This was her grandest bid to bring something back from the ruins. She was not reading despite the bombs; she was reading with them, and the two – reading and bombs – are jumbled together in one of her last letters.'
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Yates Lane, NW8

'Escapees from St Mary’s, Paddington: expectant father smoking; old lady wheeling herself in a wheelchair, smoking; die-hard holding urine sack, blood sack, smoking.'
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Out of Windows

'Last Halloween, a woman was thrown out of a fourth-floor window in Marylebone. I was heading back to my flat on Chiltern Street with the intention of watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a film that I had always avoided.'
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