A new government strategy document for tarting up towns and cities that talks of “place shaping” and “community cohesion” can claim few prizes for English. But it does win a first: for being the only government document to be launched with a poem.
CABE, an architecture quango, had been tasked with jazzing up the otherwise predictably dull unveiling of World Class Places last month. They contacted poet Ian McMillan, who had previously written a ditty in honour of architect Will Alsop’s rebranding of Barnsley as a Tuscan village. The bard’s former posts include poet in residence for Barnsley Football Club, The Northern Spirit Rail Network and even a “beat poet” for Humberside Police.
The resulting ode—which McMillan explains was inspired by his father’s frequent use of the phrase “world class”—begins: “I want to live in a place / you can call world class / give me a sunlit square / not an underpass” and concludes: “streets and towns that dance” “an optimistic street map and a smiling face / that is my definition / of a world class place.”
Perhaps the government might have just have left it at that? Or where else in the UK could do with a McMillan style poetic make-over? Leave your thoughts below.