The Paperback Poets
Paul Farley joins other poets to remember and celebrate the Penguin Modern Poets series which started life fifty years ago. The slim volumes - selections from three contemporary poets in each - were familiar on many bookshelves from the 1960s on. They were famously useful as badges of hipsterdom; many a girl or boy was wooed thanks to a paperback leaning from the pocket of a corduroy jacket or produced from the woolly lining of an Afghan coat. But also many a poet was introduced to the reading public in a cheap and accessible format that previously hadn't existed. And in The Mersey Sound - Penguin Modern Poets Number 10, featuring Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten - the most successful book of poetry ever published in Britain was born.
Joining Paul to remember the impact of being included in the series or of reading it are poets Andrew Motion, Jo Shapcott, Michael Longley, Roger McGough, Robin Robertson, and Simon Armitage. Each poet reads a poem of their own and one of their favourites from the series. Tony Lacey editorial director at Penguin remembers joining the firm and trying to revive the series a second time around. And Paul also visits the Penguin Archive at Bristol University Library where he is able to secure a copy of the CV Roger McGough typed out when asked to promote The Mersey Sound and which details his favourite colour - orange - and his favourite food - chicken curry. Would he say the same today?
Producer: Tim Dee.