The Policeman's Daughter;Young Poet;Eleanor Dix

29th January 1999 at 00:00
The Policeman's Daughter" is a fine example of using an assumed persona to voice strong feelings which might otherwise sound preachy or moralising, which isn't poetry's role.

It's a very controlled piece, almost flat-sounding, but pulled back from this by the clever use of line-breaks, which seem to hesitate, reflecting, perhaps, the speaker's desire to please. Why else would she not want to dirty a dress she doesn't like? The line "Perfection is vital" speaks volumes about this father-daughter relationship and all its power struggles.

I also want to praise the two single-word lines. Feeling "alone" and "angry" are what the poem is, finally, about. I like the fact that they alliterate and that they are spaced nine lines into the poem, and nine lines from the middle. It's this sense of neatness, both in subject matter and in form, which makes the poem so powerful.


My father is a policeman.

Pillar of the community.

People nod and smile as

He walks down the street in his

Tidy black uniform and

Shiny black boots.

Little do they know that

Every night he leaves me


To polish his boots until they

Shimmer, sparkle and shine.

Perfection is vital.

I mustn't dirty the dress

He bought which is

Unflattering, uncomfortable and

Quite frankly not me.

He doesn't know I am


Eleanor Dix

Eleanor Dix, aged 17, receives 'Emergency Kit' edited by JoShapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Submitted by Sue Dymoke of West Bridgford School, Nottingham, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send students' poems to 'TES' Young Poet, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Anthony Wilson is Poetry Society poet-in-residence for primary education, and the author of 'How Far From Here Is Home?' (Stride). He co-edited 'The Poetry Book for Primary Schools' (Poetry Society)

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