I should have pointed out more clearly the other day that there have been lots of thoughtful responses in the blogosphere to the whole Paxman and poetry thing. Here are four excellent reads to enjoy over the weekend.
George Szirtes in The Guardian - lots of good points made, and even where I disagree with George, he doesn't claim that Paxman has no right to an opinion.
Katy Evans-Bush at Baroque In Hackney - typically considered take on things, and anyway you should always read any article that contains the phrase "pellety nest".
Jon Stone at Sidekick Books - very thought-provoking, and it's good to see someone suggesting positive steps to change the current situation.
Padraig Reidy at Index on Censorship - argues with some of George's points, but also gets right to the nub of why that response I mentioned the other day was such tosh.
My own position again?
1 I don't much like the whole 'ordinary people' thing, but I'd guess that Paxman was using it as shorthand for 'people who don't in the normal course of things buy or read poetry' - in a brief interview that doesn't seem unreasonable.
2 He has every right to make such comments. He'd have every right whether he was a judge or not. Provoking a bit of debate isn't a bad thing. It is a worry if it detracts attention from the actual chosen books, but there's plenty of time before the awards are made to focus on them.
3 He might have a point about failing to engage with people.
4 If he has, though, I think he's identified the wrong reasons for this. I think it has more to do with how hard it is to casually encounter poetry.
5 That's it.