in terms of spreading good values, getting people to laugh and feel angry for the right reasons, it may be that Mitchell mattered most. Across the country there are people who have been influenced by Mitchell's socialist, pacifist and kindly values. We have plenty of cleverness. We need a bit of heart.Mitchell's work overspills even a broad definition of heart: generosity, romantic and erotic play, passion, sturdiness, the great beating engine (of rhyme or blood) that keeps things going, that speeds up with excitement. Like a heart, he worked tirelessly to give and to spread, to move the lifeblood of language and song around the body. But because
he was a street poet, and one who loved writing for children [...and h]is poems are full of fantasy and simplicityhe was never mentioned in the same breath as the Nobel Prize. But for the thousands of children whose early, or earliest, theatrical experience was a school trip to his fine version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (with its emphasis on generosity and co-operation), or the teenagers reached by "Puppies" or "The Killing Ground" whose thrum and precision make the link between boring old poetry read in school and soaring new lyrics heard on the radio, Mitchell is *in* their blood. He may not have had an adjective coined after his pauses, but his pacifist and passionate words are as deeply grooved into the British mind as the lyrics of the Beatles. We need him now. Bloodaxe -- a press that has never doubted the power of street poetry -- is publishing his last book next year, Tell Me Lies, with a "remix" of his famous "Tell Me Lies about Vietnam" as its title poem.
Adrian Mitchell from Neil Astley on Vimeo.