LONDON - KNIFE CRIME POEM GETS THE AXE
Sep 8 2008
Britain's biggest exam board, AQA, has removed a Carol Ann Duffy poem from its syllabus because of its (pretty innocuous) allusions to knife crime. The exam board has also instructed schools to "destroy" copies of the anthology containing the poem, entitled Education for Leisure. Yes, that's right, we are now being told to burn books that reference knife crime. Where am I? Nazi Germany?
Surely the kids most likely to stab someone won't be in school diligently reading Carol Ann Duffy poems while trying to look for hidden contexts, anyway. (They'll be in the alleyway behind Woolworths smoking weed, innit.)
They'll have to ban pens and pencils next - they look a bit like knives. Also, kids will have to be forbidden from drawing triangles in case they become too attached to images of pointy knife-like things.
At the rate we're going, this time next year teachers will be carrying out lessons in full riot gear behind a bullet-proof screen and pleading with kids not to kill each other through a megaphone as they scrawl pictures of boobs and penises on their desks with blunt crayons and let out deathly cackles.
Read the poem in question below.
Carol Ann Duffy
Education for Leisure
Today I am going to kill something. Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,
a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets
I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.
We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in
another language and now the fly is in another language.
I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.
I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half
the chance. But today I am going to change the world.
Something's world. The cat avoids me. The cat
knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.
I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.
I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.
Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town
For signing on. They don't appreciate my autograph.
There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio
and tell the man he's talking to a superstar.
He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.
Carol Ann Duffy