Skip to main content

Cope Can't

Wendy Cope has been quoted by the BBC as suggesting the position of poet laureate be binned (or banned). What a pity. Cope - one of the truly beloved poets in the UK of the last 40 years (in the company of Larkin, Hegley and Hughes in terms of public esteem) - often uses her public profile in ways that endorse a conservative view of the world - witness her public opposition to copyleft poetry online.

I admire her a great deal, and consider her a friend, but often find myself disagreeing with her opinions, if rarely disagreeing with her poems. Ironically, she seems to undermine her own position - that poets should write poems, not become statement-machines - by actually being that rare thing - a poet the press and people want to hear from, on any number of topics, not all of them poetic. Anyway, her latest jibe at the poet laureate position is, I think, sad, because she would have made a great one. She's wrong, in my book, to think the "role" of the poet is merely to "write poems". In this wired age, where intertextuality, education, and the Internet, fuse ceaselessly, poets are, above all else, master communicators - and what a "poem" is is expanding.

As Broadband moves into every UK home in 2012, what new forms of hybrid poems may emerge - ever-more performative, digital, or multidimensional? A poet laureate needs to reach out, I think, to several communities - the young, who need to believe poetry can speak to them, and also, the educated and well-off, who more and more tend to prefer novels, plays, and films, to a good collection of poems. A third community is the disenfranchised - a poet laureate can speak to and from the margins, of class or wealth as well. I have tried to speak to all three of these communities as Oxfam's poet-in-residence, 2004-0ngoing, through various events, and CDs etc. Ultimately, Andrew Motion made the position viable again, and very 21st century. Cope's complaint seems very last-century, and does much to undermine what could be an increasingly innovative and wide-reaching remit.

Popular posts from this blog


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:

HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!