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Tom Paulin
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Tom Paulin

Tom Paulin (January 25, 1949 - ) was born in Leeds, but grew up in Belfast. A fiercely independent voice in British poetry, Paulin is frequently acclaimed for the rich quality of his poetic language. He is also well-known for his fierce political views, which stem directly from the political situation in Northern Ireland.

His Life and Work

Paulin was educated at Hull University and Lincoln College, Oxford. He worked at the University of Nottingham, first as a lecturer and later as a Reader of Poetry, from 1972 to 1994. He is currently the GM Young Lecturer in English Literature at Hertford College, Oxford.

In 1977 he won the Somerset Maugham prize for his poetry collection A State of Justice. More recent work has included The Invasion Handboook (2001). Paulin is also well known for his critical work, including Minotaur: Poetry and the Nation State. Of late, he has championed the work of literary and social critic William Hazlitt, and has taken part in a successful campaign to have Hazlitt's gravestone refurbished.

In Britain, Paulin is most widely known for his appearances on the late-night BBC arts programme Late Review, where he has established a reputation, not only for his acerbic judgements, but also for the unusual quality of some of his language, for instance, describing the sound of Blur's '13' album as "like barbed wire at the bottom of a pond", as well as his frequently bad-tempered arguments with guests, such as Germaine Greer. Paulin continues to be a regular contributor to BBC2's Newsnight Review arts programme.

He attracted controversy in 2002 after his invitation to deliver the Morris Gray Lecture at Harvard was cancelled and then subsequently reinstated after complaints about his supposed anti-semitism, after he was quoted in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly as saying that Brooklyn born Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied territories were "Nazis, racists" who should be "shot dead".