[first published at Normblog by philosopher Norman Geras.] There’s a column by Simon Armitage here headed ‘Poetry should be subversive’. I started reading the piece thinking ‘No, it shouldn’t’, because I don’t believe there’s anything (in the way of political direction or character) that poetry should be, or for that matter literature more generally. Anyway, not only does Simon Armitage not say what he is billed as saying, he doesn’t say anything remotely resembling it. All he says is that when he was young he ‘found refuge in poetry, and thought of it as an alternative to the mainstream’; and that he thinks children should be ‘allowed to find the poems that fit their voices or appeal to their imaginations’. This seems an eminently sensible suggestion, but isn’t the same as favouring poetry which is subversive.