National Poetry Day Verb
For 'National Poetry Day' Ian McMillan presents a special Verb to celebrate 'undersung' poets from the past. His guests John Hegley, Angie Hobbs, Kei Miller and Michael Symmons Roberts will each explain why their chosen poet deserves more love and attention from the British public - Bertolt Brecht and Stevie Smith are just two of the writers whose talents will be sung.
We promised you the results of our ‘Love Button’ audience survey at the Radio Theatre. We’re having a few teething problems with the cutting edge technology but do watch this space and we’ll bring you the results as soon as we can. Without analysing the data The Verb can confirm that everyone had a great time and poetry is the best thing since sliced bread.
Michael Symmons Roberts
Michael Symmons Roberts champions the work of Stevie Smith (1902 – 1971), a poet with an odd reputation who is often dismissed as suburban and whimsical. Smith is best known as the author of the poem ‘Not Waving but Drowning’, Michael makes the case for the ‘undertow’ in her work, her astute assessment of human behaviour, and her ability to reconcile different tones in the same poem. Michael’s latest collection is ‘Drysalter’ (Cape)
The philosopher Angie Hobbs wants us to pay more attention to the American poet Wallace Stevens (1879 –1955), arguing that his name is very well known but that his work is not often read. Often seen as a ‘difficult’ poet, Angie celebrates the way Stevens engages with Platonic ideas and attempts to ‘create truth through language’. Angie is the Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield.
Kei Miller’s ‘undersung’ poet is the Jamaican born poet Claude Mckay (1889 – 1948). Kei introduces us to a man who opened the gate for the Harlem Renaissance, and who wrote with ‘nostalgic and precise’ language and created universal images (but was also the victim of unfortunate timing). Kei won the Forward Prize for Best Collection for ‘The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion’ (Carcarnet)
Earlier this year John Hegley discovered that dramatist Bertolt Brecht was also a poet with a great reputation in his native Germany. Hegley considers what impact translation has on Brecht’s poetry, and performs a musical tribute to him. His latest book ‘New and Selected Potatoes’ is published by Bloodaxe.
Rebecca Perry is this week’s Podcast Poet. Rebecca’s debut collection ‘Beauty/Beauty’ (Bloodaxe) was published in January. She takes us into the unusual writing process of ‘All The Sad Movies’, a poem written only using film titles suggested on Twitter. Rebecca explains how this process yielded a series of striking images.