Actors from the Iris Theatre Company, directed by Daniel Winder, will be performing an evening of new dramatic verse tomorrow night (9th June) in the open air at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, concluding with a performance by the company’s actors Ben Crystal and Matthew Mellalieu of Nicholas Murray’s verse broadside, Get Real! published as a pamphlet by Rack Press earlier this year.
“Political poetry, particularly the art of poetic pamphleteering, was once a staple of English literary and political life,” Nicholas Murray said this week. “But in this country there has been a tendency to think poetry and politics exist in separate spheres which would be a surprise to Milton, Marvell, Yeats or more recently Tony Harrison – not to mention a range of major twentieth century European poets. It’s time for poets to engage once again with the rough and tumble of politics.”
Nicholas Murray’s Get Real!, has already attracted praise from the Times Literary Supplement for its skilful verse technique, and it is a pamphlet-length poem written in regular rhyming stanzas reminiscent of the the famous verse letters of Robert Burns, a form revived in the 1970s by poets John Fuller, James Fenton and Clive James.
The hard-hitting broadside attacks the coalition’s politics and in particular lampoons the failed Liberal Democrat opposition to student tuition fees.
Since Get Real! appeared in February this year the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has also broken with the polite consensus by publishing in May her poem attacking the cuts to the Poetry Book Society, providing further evidence of the new willingness of poets to engage directly with contemporary politics.