The Literature Butcher by Oliver Sindall

I'm quite fond of chopping up poems myself - I like to see how they work. But I understand Oliver's feeling of distress as his beloved artwork goes under the cleaver. His own poem wouldn't work without its "metaphor and rhythm". The long, slightly broken-backed lines and the half rhymes (finishedEnglish) make the poem funny and very much like the speaking rhythms of someone in a rage. The rhyme of picture and literature at the end, for example, works because it skips a syllable of literature, and so makes us hear the foreshortened enraged way it must be said.


People write stories and poems for pleasure Not to be torn apart or made to measure

A writer is proud of a poem he has written They just want you to find the message which is hidden

It's not written to be torn apart for metaphor or rhythm They just want to let out the feeling within them

If you have written or read a book you have finished The execution of this book is the butcher of English

You study it hard and it's pulled apart It is turned into a piece of meat and is no longer art

If literature becomes part of a GCSE course It gets crushed and stamped on like grass under a horse

A poem, a book or even sometimes a picture Enters English and meets the Butcher of Literature


Oliver Sindall, aged 15,(above) receives Slattern by Kate Clanchy (Chatto Windus). Submitted by Joan Secombe and Barry Smith of Bishop Luffa School, West Sussex.They receive a set of Poetry Society posters with teachers' notes. For Poetry Society events, ring 0171 240 2133.

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