The Nation’s Favourite Poem

Fuck ’em!

Architects for Social Housing (ASH)

This poem was written in 2012 just after the London Olympics, for which I had left the country. As with the similar spectacles of the Queen’s Jubilee and the European Football Cup, I was struck, on my return to London, by how the streets and public spaces which the previous year had been the site of student protests, anti-capitalism marches, the Occupy movement and nation-wide rioting, had been so demonstrably re-appropriated for the stage-managed celebrations of our nation’s manufactured athletic success. It was around this time that I read somewhere that the nation had voted for its ‘favourite poem’, and the winner, unsurprisingly, was Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’, a poem which even the least poetic subject of her Majesty would recognise from its famous opening lines: ‘If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,’ the first of a series…

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