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Poems of the Decade anthology swaps Keats for modern masters


From ‘marble men and maidens’ to ‘Burberry clad louts’ … a new Forward prize collection that will be studied by A-level students includes Tim Turnbull’s Ode on a Grayson Perry Urn and work by other contemporary poets

Schoolchildren of the past pored over Keats’s elegant reflection on time and art, Ode to a Grecian Urn. From September, A-level students will be analysing Tim Turnbull’s poem Ode on a Grayson Perry Urn, which replaces Keats’s “marble men and maidens” who are “for ever piping songs for ever new” with “Burberry clad louts” playing “crude games of chlamydia roulette”.

The poem is part of Poems of the Decade, an anthology of submissions for the Forward prizes during the past 10 years. The anthology will be a set text for the students taking A- or AS-level English Literature with Edexcel from September. It will be taught in 400 schools, and is packed with poems on everything from Vicki Feaver’s take on blood sports and how “a gun brings a house alive” to Turnbull’s Keats-inspired look at Perry’s “kitschy vase … delineating tales of kids in cars / on crap estates”.

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