Poetry News

Tory Poetry, UK Poets of Color, and the Oxford Job Hunt

"Britain in 2009 is not the same as Britain in 1959." So says Boris Johnson, Tory mayor of London and snappy blogger. To prove his point, Johnson recently went off on how little poetry British students know by heart, and has made a modest proposal with hopes of rectifying the "Kulturkampf":
So I say to my friends in the Tory high command, here is your policy. Never mind selective admission, which all parties are now too terrified to contemplate. Never mind all this smart stuff about creating “more good schools”. The way to create more good schools is to insist that the kids learn something good. I propose universal saying lessons in English poetry. I propose that this should involve learning two or three poems a term, off by heart. And if necessary let’s put the best declaimers on TV and get them judged by Simon Cowell.

In less "bug-eyed, foam-flecked, capillary-popping reactionary" poetry news, last week's Poetry Foundation cover story was an "A-Z Hyperguide to U.K. Poets of Color" by Karen McCarthy. While the piece has not sparked the bonfire of blogo that Stephanie Strickland's "Born Digital" exploration of e-lit poets did, "We Brits" has generated some ideas for additions and, curiously, one "yabba dabba doo."
And in other news from across the pond, Derek Walcott wants a job.

Originally Published: March 18th, 2009

Travis Nichols is the author of two books of poetry: Iowa (2010, Letter Machine Editions) and See Me Improving (2010); and he is the author of two novels: Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder (2012) and The More You Ignore Me (2013). He has contributed to The Believer, Paste, The...

  1. March 20, 2009
     john maszka

    White, Straight Male in a “Feminist’s” World
    John Maszka
    Once again, she ignores me–calling on everyone else, just not me.
    She waits for someone else to speak…Anyone at all; as long as they’re female or gay or a different color than me. Even when she acknowledges me, she tells me to wait and then never allows me to speak.
    I don’t know why I even try.
    I’m invisible and yet still, she targets me with isolation.
    She’s obviously very angry,
    Her passive-aggression gives her away.
    “Did you have your hand up?” She asks the others but never me.
    “Do you have something to add?” Words I’ll never hear.
    Not here anyway.
    My opinion is not welcome.
    My offense has nothing to do with what I’ve done, and everything to do with what I am.
    I’m a white male–
    And heterosexual too!
    I might as well be a leper!
    Ostracized by the “feminist” who claims to champion the unempowered;
    but she uses her position of power to oppress and silence.
    Her thin veil of hypocrisy, yellow like her teeth, barely conceals her cowardice.
    Are you the “son of a Swan?”
    or the abandoned offspring of a harpy?
    The goddess Diana resents your name.
    You preach about ethics, but look what you do.
    You’re not a feminist, you’re a liar–and the worst kind…
    Pretending to be a victim as you wipe the blood from your lips.

  2. March 21, 2009
     Vivek Narayanan

    Pretending to be a victim, are you, John?