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This report is taken from PN Review 136, Volume 27 Number 2, November - December 2000.

ASDA, the fruit and vegetable poetry place John Gallas

When I was asked, 'And why a Supermarket?' I wish I'd answered, 'Because it's there.' But at nine o'clock in the morning, on top of a Leicester skyscraper and live on The Morning Show, I wasn't that sensible. I think I said something about moving the styles and subjects of poetry away from the school-remembered blocks of verse that people were obliged to call their favourites. It seemed right to be ambitious at the time. 'We'll be writing,' I said, 'about fruit and vegetables.' And I said we wouldn't rhyme.

At the launch, I turned up at Oadby ASDA with an 'ASDA Poem' that wasn't about fruit and vegetables, and rhymed. John Florence had set up his Breakfast Show in a corner of the cafe and we took turns being interviewed: the Literature Officer, the Manager, the Libraries Officer, the Poet, the Councillor, the ASDA Liaison Officer. We all said that a supermarket was a good place for poetry. Then the Councillor handed the Poetry Place Plaque to the Manager, and we were declared open.

With poems on the till rolls and the walls, and more to appear in the car parks, on the cash machines, in the toilets and in the flower stall, the next thing was to read the 'ASDA Poem' over the tannoy. I took the cordless microphone to the Help Desk, hid behind a returned suitcase, and read:

Stop what you're doing and listen to me!
Are ...

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