"Cirque de Modernisme": a poem by Joe Dunthorne

                       Ezra Pound mesmerises crowds
with his which-fez-is-hiding-the-pince-nez shtick
while Gertrude Stein, astride two palomino hinnies,
recites “nightwear’s enemy” and other anagrams
of Ernest Hemingway, the burnished strongman,
who flexes his glutes then tears through Ulysses,
no sweat, before Thomas “Nine Lives” Stearns
takes aplomb-less turns on the parallel trapezes
in his unambiguous catsuit, swinging from low
to high amid footnote confetti. For the grand finale,
James Joyce, hobo clown, hoists flaming hoops
toward the big top’s roof. The Woolf tucks herself
in the literary cannon. Apollinaire starts a snare roll.
Ringmaster Proust, with his chevron moustache,
lights the fuse. A scent of burnt madeleine then boom,
in a plume of chalk dust, she splits the air,
The Human Comet, her hair aflame, she flips
through not one, not two, but three burning rings,
the crowd all stand and sing her name, her colleagues
wince, the band play Schoenberg’s Dial-up Modem
in B flat major, the tent is a plague of hands

but no-one checks where Virginia lands.

This article first appeared in the 08 July 2013 issue of the New Statesman, The world takes sides

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Katy Perry just saved the Brits with a parody of Donald Trump and Theresa May

Our sincerest thanks to the pop star for bringing one fleeting moment of edge to a very boring awards show.

Now, your mole cannot claim to be an expert on the cutting edge of culture, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on in 2017, it’s that the Brit Awards are more old hat than my press cap. 

Repeatedly excluding the genres and artists that make British music genuinely innovative, the Brits instead likes to spend its time rewarding such dangerous up-and-coming acts as Robbie Williams. And it’s hosted by Dermot O’Leary.

Which is why the regular audience must have been genuinely baffled to see a hint of political edge entering the ceremony this year. Following an extremely #makeuthink music video released earlier this week, Katy Perry took to the stage to perform her single “Chained to the Rhythm” amongst a sea of suburban houses. Your mole, for one, doesn’t think there are enough model villages at popular award ceremonies these days.

But while Katy sang of “stumbling around like a wasted zombie”, and her house-clad dancers fell off the edge of the stage, two enormous skeleton puppets entered the performance in... familiar outfits.

As our Prime Minister likes to ask, remind you of anyone?

How about now?

Wow. Satire.

The mole would like to extend its sincerest lukewarm thanks to Katy Perry for bringing one fleeting moment of edge to one of the most vanilla, status-quo-preserving awards ceremonies in existence. 

I'm a mole, innit.