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The Verb

The Verb

Radio 3's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performances...

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Ian McMillan Presents the Verb (1)
The Verb, words and performance with poet Ian…

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The Verb at Laugharne Live

The Verb at Laugharne Live

The Verb will be joining the centenary celebrations of the life, work and legacy of Dylan Thomas at Laugharne Live

We’re recording a special edition of the programme on Sunday 4th May. Tickets are available for the recording here.  

Ian McMillan’s guests include the writer Glyn Maxwell – on updating and relocating ‘Under Milk Wood’,  the poet Gwyneth Lewis on writing a novella which explores Thomas’s influence, and the musician Gruff Rhys - one-time frontman for the Super Furry Animals -  will be talking about his project ‘American Interior’ and the experience of composing the soundtrack for a new film about Dylan Thomas.

 For the full programme of events and to discover more about Dylan Thomas please visit

The Proms Poetry Competition

The Proms Poetry Competition took place on Friday 6th September and was broadcast that night on Radio 3. The presenter was Ian McMillan and the judges were the poet Don Paterson and Judith Palmer from the Poetry Society. The poems were read by Samantha Bond.


The winner of the 19 and over category was Jonathan Davidson for The Silence, inspired by Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten by Arvo Part.


The Silence


I like best the silence that is not

silence but our breathing, the orchestra

Of flesh and thought caught in looped


                  But back to the silence,

That comes at the start and finish

And places a hand on our shoulder

Or takes our hands and leads us not

To heaven or hell but into the ever-

Lasting place of unknowing, from where

We issued forth.

                        But back to the silence,

That for us on the surface of the earth

Is nothing like silence, but a continuous

Roar of obligation and dispatch, of coming

And going, and for Benjamin Britten

was the great bell tolling and then not


              And that is what I like best;

The silence that is noisy like the bell,

That we go back to, from where we came.


The runners up were:

Isabel White    Cyd and Senor

Helen Addy    Myiasis

Anna Crowe    A Quiet Life


And, in the 12-18 section, the winner was Dillon Leat with Rivers and Streams, inspired by Julian Anderson’s Harmony


Rivers and Streams


The summer our neighbour’s kitten died

and Mum sold her pearls, I took you to the river

for the first time. The air was heavy like steamed glass,

blurring your skin into the sky as you edged along

the bank. A new white dress clung to your kneecaps


and not-hips as you cracked the ripples

with your big toe, squealing at the cold. Seaglass

gleamed from the muddy bed but as you leant to look

the foam grew layers of lips and swallowed you

like daylight. I grabbed for your hand but you spun away,


laughing. Pondweed tangled in your toes as you spat

spray like a waterfall. The riverwater sliced streaks

along your dress, until I could count freckles scattered

like cattle across your spine. I tried to follow, but the rapids cackled

like a white-haired step-mum so I sat on an oak and waited


for you to pull yourself out on a low branch. Nosy clouds

followed us home and watched us murmur excuses

to Mum. She sighed and scrubbed us in her clawfoot tub

until we were pink and clean like empty stomachs.

The little white dress was too stained to wear again.


The runners up were:

Alice Cattley  The Outpouring

Jake Reynolds     The Way the Waitress Turned Her Head

Discover Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas season

Explore the life, work and legacy of the Welsh poet on the centenary of his birth.