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Last on

Sat 6 Nov 2010 23:30 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 31 October 2010

Part poetry and part national topological survey with a rich seam of encounters along the way, The Electric Polyolbion will be poet and broadcaster Paul Farley's reimagining of Michael Drayton's sprawling, extraordinary Poly-Olbion, first published in 1612.

The term Poly-Olbion suggests 'many Albions', the plurality of place, and Drayton described his own project as "...a chorographicall [sic] description of tracts, rivers, mountains, forests, and other parts of this renowned isle... with intermixture of the most remarkable stories, antiquities, wonders, rarities, pleasures and commodities of the same."

Drayton's Poly-Olbion is a remarkable poem: 30,000 lines, arranged in 30 sections or 'songs', describing the geography and history of England and Wales county by county. References to place are clear and precise.

The Electric Poly-Olbion will follow and explore the same topographies as Drayton's work, and Paul Farley will use its precursor to create a new version out of our contemporary landscape that incorporates and synthesizes historical, scientific, political, literary, pop-cultural and autobiographical dimensions into the imaginative region of the long poem.

As he travels the country Farley writes his own long form verse in and around the places and references of Drayton's original: the same landscapes, two wildly different time frames. Paul has a lovely ease of style in conversation, and he'll meet other local writers along the way.

Presenter: Paul Farley

Producer: Simon Hollis
A Brook Lapping Production for BBC Radio 4.


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