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Last on

Tue 29 Jun 2010 11:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 29 June 2010

The comic poet Elvis McGonagall explores the world of satiric verse and discusses the craft of writing it. Elvis appeared on the poetry scene eight years ago, choosing his idiosyncratic nom de plume just before stepping on stage for the first time. In common with several before him and one or two since, he found his way into comedy through verse and into poetry through satire. But what is it that makes poetry such a good vehicle for jokes? And why are satirists like himself driven to write it?

Elvis analyses the fine art of writing satiric verse in conversation with a range of poets. He talks to John Cooper Clarke and Attila The Stockbroker about the ranting poetry scene of the late seventies, and to his Saturday Live colleague Kate Fox about the influence of John Betjeman.

We hear from Wendy Cope, Murray Lachlan Young and Martin Newell about rhyme schemes and from Tim Turnbull and Tony Harrison on what makes them angry. Elvis will be asking questions like: "Which rhythms are funniest?" "Why does a rhyme make a slightly lame joke sound twice as good?" "How does your subject affect your meter?" and "Can funny poems be good poems as well?"

This programme will guide us through the dos and don'ts of writing the very funniest verse.

'A Doggerel Bard' is how W.S. Gilbert once described himself in the 'Bab' Ballads.

Producer: Frank Stirling
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

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