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A Poem for Paxman

Back in 2014 Jeremy Paxman hit out at poets for not engaging with the public. This poem was written in response to those comments.


A Public Engagement


Come now, Paxman, let’s have this out –

I can’t stand by and let you wipe

the floor with us. Sure, there’s plenty

of bad poets out there; no doubt

you’ve written some sickly verse

yourself? You do seem like the type.

Don’t get me wrong, wouldn’t think worse

of you for trying, Jeremy –


no one gets far without trying.

But when you sit up there and swipe

at us for not connecting, try

listening; we’re out there, dying

on open-mike-night; dying to

be heard. Must be easy to gripe

from a newsroom with its high view

to all your Oxbridge alumni.


Try getting your front teeth knocked out

by some yob who thinks poetry

is gay, then still show up the week

after for a gig that pays nowt.

Not sure how much more engaged you

can be with the public than three

missing teeth and some purple-blue

bruises from your lips to your cheek.


I only have a few steadfast

readers (and one of them’s my nan)

but they are my public, my kin,

my brothers and sisters. So cast

down your judgement; make it snappy

or sharp, but if these green words can

make just one old lady happy

I will consider it a win.


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