Hill or Horovitz?
The race has heated up - for the position of Oxford Professor of Poetry. Geoffrey Hill, England's greatest living lyric poet, seemed a shoe-in, facing pint-sized opposition, until, the contest was revitalised and refreshed by the news that another poetic elder statesman, Michael Horovitz, had entered. Horovitz has several times read for my Oxfam series. I think he is a brilliant man - a superb poet-of-the-people - who has done more for the Beat strain of poetry in the UK than any other single human being (I mean, as opposed to organisations or groups). He loves to encourage others. He has a big warm heart. And he knows his poetry. He's right to challenge the other lesser figures running, and right, to, like Clegg, give the leading horse a run for the money. This isn't, now, a race I'd want to call. Hill is the master elitist of English letters, and Horovitz the ultimate English maverick, the advocate of almost everything Hill is against. As a fusion poet, I'd want the best of both poets - but of course, in the real world, often, he who stands in the middle of the road gets hit by two-way traffic.