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    Jeremy Paxman sparks a poetry debate

    Published on 02/06/2014 by David Birkett

    Jeremy Paxman has inspired a fervent and popular discussion in the press and on social media by offering his opinions on the state of modern poetry.   I think poetry has really rather connived at its own irrelevance and that shouldn't happen, because it's the most delightful thing’ said Paxman. ’It seems to me very often that poets now seem to be talking to other poets and that is not talking to people as a whole.’  Paxman was speaking in his capacity as Chair of the judging panel for the Forward Prize, one of poetry’s most prestigious set of awards, which selects the best collection, first collection and single poem each year. The outgoing Newsnight presenter envisaged an ‘inquisition’ process whereby poets would be held to public account for the motivation and content of their writing.  The business of gauging how relevant poetry should be to ‘everyday’ life is almost as old as that of poetry itself, and well-known pronouncements on this subject have ranged from Plato’s ‘Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history’ to Auden’s ‘poetry makes nothing happen’.

    The Forward prize winners will be announced in September; take a look at last year’s Forward anthology here.

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