Sunday, August 19, 2018

Unicorn Poetry Denounced

I never knew this blog was read so widely. This morning, I was taken aback to receive a scorching email from Tim Palin, poetry critic for the New Left Review:

Dear Mr. Ó Ceallaigh

I regularly read your blog for the giggle factor. So long as you confined yourself to the cloud cuckoo land of theology and bizarre essays about snow globes, it was all a lot of harmless fun. However, when you begin to trespass upon my "patch", as it were, I feel I must protest.

Unicorn poetry...! 

As far as I can see, it's a celebration of all that is backwards, escapist, slovenly, half-baked, clichéd, reactionary, and kitsch-- without the saving grace of irony, which you have explicitly rejected.

Poetry, Mr. Ó Ceallaigh, is the art whereby the poet enters into a dynamic relationship with the vital forces that move his age, using language which makes manifest the unresolved tensions inherent within rhetoric itself.

How does "Unicorn Poetry" speak to the problems of patriarchy, late-stage capitalism, the digital media, globalization, short-term and zero-hour contracts, transhumanism, Islamophobia, and climate change?

I was disgusted to read your blog post regarding Anne Lewis of Wrexham, "housewife". Yes, you are very happy to encourage this victim of patriarchy and capitalism to write twee fantasies about unicorns, aren't you? Good God, the suppressed eroticism in that little ditty was almost embarrassing. Yes, Anne, go on making cakes for your husband and your two kids, and channeling your displaced energies into sub-sub-sub standard nineteenth century doggerel. Meanwhile there's a whole world out there waiting for you! No unicorn is coming to save you, sister!

Mr. Ó Ceallaigh, I must inform you that I have brought your manifesto to the attention of my colleagues in the field of poetry criticism. We are wise to you. We are watching you. Unicorn poetry is not going to be "given a pass", or slip under the radar. You have been warned!

Yours in disgust

Tim Palin
Poetry critic, New Left Review
Writer-in-Residence, Exeter College
Author of The Canterbury Wails, Your Mum's a Slag, Standard Deviations, and Queering Mr. Kipling: An Excavation into the Homoerotic Subtexts of Imperalist Poetry.

Well, well, well. What to say to such a missive?

Only this. Tim Palin and his colleagues are NOT going to intimidate me or my kindred spirits!  If you ask me, they have ruled the roost too long already. The Unicorn School is here, and it's here to stay. Stay tuned for further developments!


  1. Hi M,
    This comes across as a bit of a joke. And if it isn't a joke, then its author is somebody who takes themselves way too seriously. Either way your intention to ignore is the only way to go!
    Fr P

    1. Thanks Fr. P! Thank you for confirming me in my resolution. I hope you are well!

  2. Well, I think this is proof positive that the idea of national character has not had its day. Poetry is dead in England but alive in Wales!

    For one so eminent, Tim Palin's digital footprint seems remarkably small... No trace of him anywhere on the Internet... Plenty about unicorns though. I think your case is sound.

    1. I wouldn't be so surprised at the lack of impact Tim Palin has made on the internet. We both know how modern poetry shies away from popularity! Nevertheless, I am not complacent about the threat his coterie poses to my nascent poetic school.