The newly knighted poet, Andrew Motion, has held off from commenting on the Derek Walcott/Ruth Padel/Oxford Professor of Poetry debacle, but is finally ready to express his views to "The Independent". He told me that he felt the post was "strong enough to recover" and that it could be a moment in which "[Oxford] university's voting system... might be worth looking at", adding, "perhaps... one might able to vote online rather than having to turn up in person. It would also include more people in the process, which would probably be a good thing as it might encourage a wider range of candidates". The outgoing Poet Laureate thought it prudent that the university might run the election again in a year's time so that the saga might be "got out of the system". He said that, while he was keen not to get involved at the time, he would otherwise have backed the Nobel Prize-winning poet over Padel: "To get a Nobel Prize-winning poet is not to be resisted."
It would appear that Ed Vaizey, the Shadow Minister for Culture, dropped a clanger in an email that he sent out referring to the gay icon and exhibitionist, Quentin Crisp (rather than the very different Quentin Blake) as the first Children's Laureate. The message read: "Congratulations to writer and illustrator Anthony Browne who became the sixth Children's Laureate on Tuesday. Browne is the second illustrator to be appointed, Quentin Crisp was the first when the role was created a decade ago." Oops.
Body of evidence
A new play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival by the award-winning playwright Anna Reynolds is to be based on the true story of people who entered the American endurance competition, Hands on a Hardbody. To win a truck, competitors had to stand, day in, day out, with five-minute breaks every hour (15 min every six hours) with their hands on a truck. The competition was discontinued in 2005 after one man killed himself after quitting the contest. The play runs from 5 until 31 August at Pleasance Grand, in Edinburgh.
A British visa is not a flexible friend
The collective of artists involved in a show called Made in Iran, which takes place at Asia House in London on 24 June, were struggling, even before current events, to get visas from the British Embassy in Iran to be here in time for the opening, and the possibility of their being able to attend already looked bleak. Our visa laws have stopped the good and the great from Asia and Africa from performing at world music festivals such as Womad. The work of these young, emerging Iranian artists (among them Shirin Aliabadi, whose "Hybrid Girl 6" is pictured left) promises to explore the emergence of subcultures.
A hundred reasons to wax lyrical
The Spanish artist Jose-Maria Cano is bringing a new series of portraits called the Wall Street 100 to Riflemaker Dairy in London from October. They are 100 large, paraffin-wax portraits that place the likes of Kate Moss and Barack Obama next to Rupert Murdoch. Each character is selected for his or her perceived level of global economic power. I wonder what Roman Abramovich, Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Bill Gates and Nicolas Sarkozy would think of being placed next in the illustrious line-up to the shamed financier Bernard Madoff (right), the latest addition to the top 100.