But the straight-talking politician reveals an unexpected lyrical streak in The Teaching Challenge, on Teachers' TV, a series in which high-profile figures attempt to teach a single lesson.
Mr Blunkett volunteered to take an A-level class in poetry at Westminster City comprehensive, in central London. The first thing the pupils want to know is how Mr Blunkett, who is blind, can appreciate poetic imagery.
His answer is appropriately lyrical: "It's building a picture from your own life experiences, from touch or smell or standing on a hillside and feeling the breeze or sun on your face."
He introduces the class to works by Christina Rossetti and Philip Larkin.
The former fails to meet with approval.
"It's like every line is almost a cliche," one pupil volunteers. Unabashed Mr Blunkett then calls on another 17-year-old. "I like it," she says. "It's quite erotic."
The Teaching Challenge will be broadcast on September 19 at 9.30pm.