Poet Adrian Mitchell dies

This is a video of British poet Adrian Mitchell, reading his poem “To Whom It May Concern” about the Vietnam war at the International Poetry Incarnation in Royal Albert Hall, London (1965).

According to reports today, he has died.

From Wikipedia:

Adrian Mitchell (born 24 October 1932, Haywards Heath, West Sussex) is an English poet and dramatist. It has been said that his work demonstrates a powerful social conscience and he has been described as the “shadow poet laureate.”

He was educated at Greenways School, Ashton Gifford, Wiltshire.[1], a school run by a friend of his mother. George Sassoon, son of the poet Siegfried Sassoon was another alumni of the school.

He has written large numbers of love poems and political poems, and frequently does public readings for Left wing causes. Satire is his speciality. Asked by the establishment to write a poem about the Prince of Wales and his special relationship with the people of Wales, he contributed the short masterpiece : “Royalty is a neurosis./ Get well soon.”

He is in the habit of writing in the prologue of his collections of poems “None of the work in this book is to be used in connection with any examination whatsoever.” Once a poem was used in a GCSE exam anyway. He agreed to let it go providing he was allowed to sit the exam anonymously (he failed).

Perhaps his best known poem is To Whom It May Concern, about the Vietnam war, which was first read in Trafalgar Square in 1964. A revised version, referring not only to Vietnam, but also to Iraq and Venezuela was read at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 September 2005 as part of the Poetry Olympics Twenty05 Festival, organised by Michael Horovitz.

See also here. And here.

To the memory of Adrian Mitchell, by David Walsh: here.


12 thoughts on “Poet Adrian Mitchell dies

  1. Adrian Mitchell

    Adrian Mitchell is to feature in the February 2009 UK domain issue. As a tribute following his recent death, we have published his poet page in advance, along with archive audio recordings of him performing at the Poetry International Festival. Further poems will be published on 1 February 2009.

    Read his biography and listen to the audio recordings at http://international.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php?obj_id=13553.

    Poetry International Web


  2. Adrian Mitchell

    Lovers lie around in it
    Broken glass is found in it
    I like that stuff

    Tuna fish get trapped in it
    Legs come wrapped in it
    I like that stuff

    Eskimos and tramps chew it
    Madame Tussaud gave status to it
    I like that stuff

    Elephants get sprayed with it
    Scotch is made with it
    I like that stuff

    Clergy are dumbfounded by it
    Bones are surrounded by it
    I like that stuff

    Harps are strung with it
    Mattresses are sprung with it
    I like that stuff

    Carpenters make cots of it
    Undertakers use lots of it
    I like that stuff

    Cigarettes are lit by it
    Pensioners are happy when they sit by it
    I like that stuff

    Dankworth’s alto is made of it, most of it,
    Scoobeedo is composed of it
    I like that stuff

    Apemen take it to make them hairier
    I ate a ton of it in Bulgaria
    I like that stuff

    Man-made fibres and raw materials
    Old rolled gold and breakfast cereals
    Platinum linoleum
    I like that stuff

    Skin on my hands
    Hair on my head
    Toenails on my feet
    And linen on my bed

    Well I like that stuff
    Yes I like that stuff
    The earth
    Is made of earth
    And I like that stuff



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