And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There’s far too much encouragement for poets –
That’s why this country’s going down the drain. (Wendy Cope, "Engineers' Corner")
There's an interesting programme on Radio 4 right now called Poetry Idol, about Million's Poet, a Pop Idol-style elimination contest for poets run in the UAE, with a prize in the region of £1,000,000.
Are British TV execs taking notice? I hope so. After all, we have similar programmes for bakers, sewers (as in, those who sew) and hairdressers, as well as models, dancers, divers and pop stars. Poetry seems an obvious gap in the market. I imagine that our version will be called Slam Dunk!!. Four established poets (dream line-up: Andrew Motion, Pam Ayres, Carol Ann Duffy and - taking on the Tom Jones role - the mummified corpse of Ted Hughes) sit with their faces turned from the contestants, who read their verse aloud until one of the four signals their approbation through the traditional medium of swivelling. For those unlucky enough not to catch the judges' collective ear a hatch opens and they are dunked in a pool of green slime known as Poetaster's Pond. For the lucky winner, however, a one-book contract with Bloodaxe awaits.
I'd watch it.