Image: Simon Hantaï's Etude, Test Centre.
Last month, Jeremy Paxman, the English broadcaster, journalist, and author known for his “hard-hitting” interviews with British politicians and deliciously smug omniscience as host of the quiz show University Challenge, caused a very minor scandal when he accused poetry of “conniv[ing] at its own irrelevance” by not “engaging with ordinary people.” As judge of this year’s Forward Prize for poetry, Paxman seems to have felt duty-bound to report the bad news about poems (which this blog has repeatedly repudiated, see here and here). He went on to call for a poetry “inquisition” that would force poets once and for all to confess their errant, solipsistic sinfulness—and then, presumably, burn at the stake of irrelevance.
A UK poetry inquisition: imagine what that would do for sales! There’s Paxman-Torquemada at the center of the tribunal,...