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Jeremy Paxman, elitism, and poetry for ordinary people | @guardianletters

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George Szirtes (Poetry is felt, not fathomed, 3 June) seems unaware that his oddly elitist dismissal of "the People" (twice), and their alleged inability to "get" a "difficult" Eliot or Auden, seem to validate Jeremy Paxman's concerns (Today's poets write mostly for each other, says Paxman, 2 June) and to do a disservice to poetry itself as a relevant communicative art form.

By dragging in while pretending to dismiss the outdated modern versus traditional dichotomy, he manages to imply that the very "comprehensibility" of a Betjeman, Larkin or Wendy Cope leaves them in some way lacking in his more obscurantist poetic stakes. He makes no mention of arguably the greatest of recent poets Seamus Heaney and Tony Harrison whose life's work in poetry has been very much about how to extend the reach of the "stolen" language of poetry to those disfranchised by background or neglect.

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