Adrian Mitchell: To Whom It May Concern
Michael Rosen visits the house of late poet Adrian Mitchell, where his widow, Celia, talks about his life and work and shows Michael the unpublished poems she keeps finding.
Michael Rosen visits the house of the late poet Adrian Mitchell, where his widow, Celia, talks about Adrian's life and work and shows Michael unpublished poems that she keeps finding.
For nearly fifty years, Adrian Mitchell had a profound impact on three kinds of poetry - performance poetry, political poetry and poetry for children.
An 18 year-old Michael Rosen was at a CND demonstration in Trafalgar Square in 1964 when he saw Adrian Mitchell deliver his searing anti-war poem, To Whom It May Concern (Tell Me Lies About Vietnam). He came to know Adrian personally and performed alongside him many times.
Adrian occupied a unique position in British poetry because he absorbed the style and content of poets like Brecht, Neruda and Langston Hughes, while taking his poetry across a range of audiences unequalled by other contemporary poets, including Trafalgar Square, the Albert Hall, prisons, schools, hospitals, theatres, pubs and international festivals.
Adrian died in 2008. In this programme, we hear Michael as he visits Adrian's wife, Celia Mitchell, in the home they shared. The time is right for Celia to start the process of sifting and sorting through Adrian's published and unpublished work in preparation for writing her own book based on Adrian's autobiographical writings.
This contemplation of her husband's poetic legacy is interspersed with Adrian reading his own poems in archive recordings. With comments from political activist and campaigner Tariq Ali who worked with Adrian on a 1960s radical magazine, and former Scots Makar Liz Lochhead who remembers the sexy, "rock and roll poet" who offered great encouragement to young performance poets like her.
Producer: Emma-Louise Williams
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.