Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dead Poets Are Alive and Kicking; KEN NEEDS A REAL FOE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dead Poets Are Alive and Kicking; KEN NEEDS A REAL FOE

Article excerpt

MY BLOOD boils at Melanie McDonagh's interview with Josephine Hart, who wants to bring Keats and Eliot, read by Bob Geldof and Edward Fox, to the inner city (6 November). It seems Dead Poets' Society is alive and well and living in The Albany, Piccadilly. (There is a poet who sits outside begging, but perhaps Hart hasn't noticed him.) Doesn't she know any living poets who she could ask to read their poems, real people who have never heard of Wiltons, Laura Mercier or Yogi Yamamoto? Michael Horovitz has been turning Hart's darling Asbo youths on to poetry for decades.

Graham Henderson's Poet in the City had 300 people at its last gathering.

Hart has turned poetry into a consumable, like a frock or foie gras, which only a true celebrity can declaim.

Pamela Hardyment, Twickenham.

THREE cheers for Josephine Hart and Sir Roger Moore for their efforts reviving the art of poetry declamation. There's no need for David Sexton to scoff about thesps giving stagey performances - what would he have said about Dickens's public readings?

C Arbuthnot, SW10.

Ken needs a real foe

IN HIS piece outlining the absence of a "Beat Ken" candidate, Keith Dovkants misses a vital contributory factor - namely that a decade and a half without a city government left London without a nursery for city-wide politicians (6 November).

Over the past six years, the Conservatives and Lib-Dems have failed to use the London Assembly as such a training ground, yet what the capital needs is a "leader of the London Opposition".

Opposing Livingstone has to be a fulltime job, not something to be done in a few months before an election.

As for running a celebrity candidate, I've never heard a more depressing idea.

Would someone with no natural political base really be prepared to make the difficult decisions required?

This touches on a major contradiction that those who wish to unseat Ken must somehow square. He's routinely accused of populism, yet the biggest idea any of the would-be candidates can come up with is to scrap the congestion charge they claim he introduced against the will of Londoners. …

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