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Poetry On The Telly

Last night BBC 2 aired a 50-minute dramatisation of Christopher Reid's magnificent long poem, "The Song of Lunch", which I think takes its place now, beside "The Rape of the Lock" as vers de societe classic.  Reid is part of a generation of major English poets who have somehow been sidelined by the NextGen - so that James Fenton, Craig Raine, Charles Boyle are, though of course widely-known, somehow not treated with the kid gloves afforded to Kid Armitage and Sundance Duffy.  Well, Reid is tops in my book.  The production was marvellous,sad and very funny, and superbly well-acted, though Rickman seemed perhaps overly-distracted, and Emma's neck was not as long as in the poem.  It made me think the whole thing was a reverie, whereas in the text, it seems more vividly nightmarish - the lunch is happening, the crisis is real.  I am not sure the fellow cast as the original owner of the bistro was funereal enough; and the Eliot-look-alike was too fat and short.  Also, would an editor in Bloomsbury real get blotto on one grappa and two bottles of plonk, having consumed a starter, a bit of pizza and a few breadsticks?  Likely not.  Still, the sadness of time was perfectly portrayed.  This proves poems can work on TV.  Bring them on!

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