In the first episode a shy kid who doesn't want to recite The Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold is taken to the Poetry Recitation cells and given a working over by tough guy Mike Gove. A more moderate officer, Ofpoem's Phil Jarrett, is watching while Gove shoves sonnets in the shy kid's mouth, feels that Mike is going too far.
When Jarrett expresses this, Gove turns on him and says, 'Listen, Jarrett. I've done Dryden. I've done Pope. I know what a a triolet is. Don't come over all bleeding heart with me, sunshine.'
Jarrett shrugs but deep down he is sure something is not quite right here.
Meanwhile, out in the PRPD van, two officers have just picked up an underperforming performance. The kids are trying to recite 'Jabberwocky' but getting the words wrong. The teacher is crying because she knows that this is being monitored.
Jack Tennyson (no relation) turns to Jill Keats (no relation): Did that kid on the end of the line say 'borogoves' or 'borogroves'?
Jill: Oh come on Jack, does it matter?
Jack: You bet it does, baby.
Jill: So what is it in the original? Borogoves or Borogroves?
Jack: How should I know, I'm not Carol Lewis, am I?
Jill: Lewis Carroll.
.Meanwhile, in a school in Doncaster, Officer Phil Larkin (no relation) has found a recalcitrant kid. He is refusing to say a poem.
Phil: (whispering) Listen kid, I know it's tough. Shall I tell you something? When I was at school, I once had to recite the whole of The Highwayman. I couldn't get it. I just couldn't get it. I always got put off by that weird 'tlot tlot tlot' thing. But one day, a kind teacher, I think her name was Miss Riskin or something, said to me, 'You know Phil, everyone is capable of reading Dryden' And that did it for me. Suddenly, I found that I too could do it. So, listen kid, give it a try.
Phil: I hate to do this to you, kid. But you know what happens if you don't do it?
Phil: (fixing the cuffs on the kid's wrists): I've seen it all before, kid. In the end, we find the shy kids, we shame them, and we get them out there reciting poems just like the rest of us. Society doesn't take no passengers, kid. I learned that the hard way. And now it's you.
[to be continued]