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Samira Ahmed explores how the idea of the desert has been used in literature and spiritual texts. There are poems and music from desert adventurers and dwellers.

Samira Ahmed explores how the idea of the desert has been used in literature and spiritual texts.

Often, in Western literature, the desert is a place of self-discovery for a single, romantic explorer or is used as a place to test ideas and fears about the end of the world. But Samira's first encounter with a desert story was that of Hagar and Ishmael. Ishmael, the first son of the Biblical Patriarch, Abraham, is cast out into the desert with his mother, Hagar. Thirsty and abandoned they are saved by an intervention from God and a promise that Ishmael will go on to found a great nation.

Harsh and difficult places to live, yes, but the desert regions of the world are not the unpopulated wastelands of the Western literary imagination. In this programme we hear music and poetry from people who live in deserts and find great beauty there.

There's music from Steve Reich, Tinariwen and Brian Eno, along with poems and prose written by Laurie Lee, Elana Bell and the pre-Islamic Arabic poet, Shanfara.

The readers are Joe Armstrong, Sirine Saba and Emily Taaffe.

Producer: Natalie Steed
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 19 Apr 2015 23:30

Music Played

  • Maurice Jarre

    First Entrance To The Desert/Night And Stars/Lawrence And Tafas

    Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra. Performer: Tony Bremner.
    • Lawrence of Arabia.
    • Silva Screen.
  • Steve Reich

    The Desert Music: III. Pt. 1, Slow

    Performer: Alarm Will Sound. Performer: Alan Pierson & Ossia.
    • Steve Reich: Tehillim & The Desert Music.
    • Canteloupe.
  • Robin Jeffrey, Roddy Skeaping

    Night in the Desert

    • Sounds Of The Jewish World.
    • KPM Music.
  • Johnny Cash

    Cool Water

    • American VI: Ain't No Grave.
    • American Recordings / Lost Highway.
  • Robin Jeffrey & Roddy Skeaping

    In the Wilderness

    • Sounds Of The Jewish World.
    • KPM Music.
  • Zakir Hussain

    Nomads

    • Soundscapes: Music of the Desert.
    • Music Today.
  • Tinariwen

    Amassakoul 'N' Ténéré

    • Amassakoul.
    • IRISLIGHTRECORDS.
  • R. Carlos Nakai

    Anasazi Visions

    • Sundance Season.
    • Celestial Harmonies.
  • Brian Eno

    Dune: Prophecy Theme

    • The No 1 Sci Fi Album.
    • PolyGram TV.
  • Natacha Atlas and Jocelyn Pook

    Adam’s Lullaby

    Performer: Natacha Atlas.
    • Something Dangerous.
    • Beggar’s Banquet.

Readings

Title: Scot in the Desert
Author: Laurie Lee
Publisher: John Murray Pub

 

Title: The story of Hagar and Ishmael - scripture quotations taken from the New English Bible
Publisher: Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press

 

Title: The story of Hagar and Ishmael - scripture quotations taken from the New English
Publisher: Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press

 

Title: What Else God Wanted
Author: Elana Bell
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press

 

Title: Children of the Sun and Wind
Author: Mohamed Ebnu (literal translation Tom Boll, final translation by the Poetry Translation Workshop)

 

Title: Arabian Ode “L”(extract)
Author: Shanfara, translated Michael A Sells, from Desert Tracings
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press

 

Title: Ozymandias
Synopsis: The ultimate poem of desert hubris
Author: Percy Bysshe Shelley
Publisher: Oxford University Press

 

Title: The End of Civilisation as we know it
Author: Michael Symmons Roberts
Publisher: Cape Poetry

 

Title: The Atrocity Exhibition
Author: JG Ballard
Publisher: The Fourth Estate

Broadcasts