Loud and Claire, or, A Pretty Good Gig
The BBC Radio 4 Today Programme today revealed a rather lax attitude towards poetry. The reporter describing what the Oxford Professor of Poetry post entails described it, chuckling, as "a pretty good gig" - with a stipend and "only" having to "do" a few lectures. This belittles one of the more arduous, intellectually demanding, and serious lecture series in the world devoted to poetry - perhaps the most serious. Muldoon's and Heaney's contributions, to name only two, are among their best critical writing and speaking. Anyway. They then interviewed Paula Claire, who I admit Eyewear belittled when she entered the race - a fact I regret now. When Claire explained why she had dropped out - for being described by the Oxford online authorities running the election as a "performer" and not a poet, the BBC radio chap chuckled (a lot of chuckling) and said it didn't seem "a big deal". Claire rightly observed that in the UK, to be called a performer not a poet is a way of sometimes undercutting the value of the work. Finally, as the spot ended, they said they hoped Michael Horovitz would win, so he could play his "anglosaxophone". Which is a fine sentiment, but rather biased. Equal time for Hill?