This week the race for the Oxford Professor of Poetry has taken a new turn, with the nomination of Steve Larkin, a slam poet and writer “for the hip-hop generation.” In contrast to the establishment favourite, Geoffrey Hill, Larkin says he represents the “pleb candidate”. Larkin vows to overcome the association of the title with “dusty books and civilised lectures” and aims to bring poetry to bars, nightclubs, and festival tents. Such is his belief in performance art that he will not allow his work to appear in print.“As a practitioner of live literature,” Larkin said, “I represent a major and significant form of poetry that is increasingly relevant in modern society, a form of poetry adapted to live performance as well as to new media…I aim to create new enthusiasm and energy for poetry which will complement Oxford’s rich and varied tradition of poetic expression.”Unlike many of the other candidates, Larkin is a well-known figure around Oxford.He founded and runs the national live poetry organisation Hammer & Tongue, and lectures on Performance Poetry at Oxford Brookes University.Guardian journalist Stephen Moss revealed that he is also hoping to be nominated for the position.Moss stated that he would stand in an article in the Guardian in June 2009. he pedged that if he won, “the £6,000 stipend will be made available to assist struggling poets and poetic ventures.”With less experience at spoken word performance than Larkin, Moss once attended a poetry slam, saying that it was “good fun, but quite distressing that my entire oeuvre was finished in under three minutes.”Michael Gibson, a poet who entered the contest last year, but failed to gain enough votes for a nomination, has announced he is planning to run again . He will be visiting Oxford later this week to try to win support.Larkin hosted the first Oxford University Poetry Slam Podcast competition last year. It was won by Chris Turner, a student at St Hugh’s and a member of the Oxford Imps. He won the Spoken Word Olympics in 2004.Larkin is the founder and president of Hammer & Tongue, the UK’s leading poetry slam promoters.In an exclusive interview on the Cherwell website, Larkin can be seen performing a recent piece, Fat Sex, which is a frenzied assault on women’s magazines and everything they represent.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey report suggests that business conditions improved last month in nine Midwest and Plains states.The report issued Wednesday says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 55.2 in December from 54.1 in November. The October reading was 54.9.Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the shortages of skilled workers are still holding back even stronger growth.The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below that suggests decline.The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.