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A Portable Shrine

What is the cost of poetry? Must poets be melancholic, doomed and self-destructive? Or is this just a myth? In our new Book of the Week, Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley - both award winning poets themselves - explore that very question through a series of journeys across Britain, America and Europe.

From Sylvia Plath's desperate suicide in the gas oven of her Primrose Hill kitchen to John Berryman's leap from a bridge onto the frozen Mississippi, the deaths of poets have often cast a backward shadow on their work.

The post-Romantic myth of the dissolute drunken poet has fatally skewed the image of poets in our culture. Novelists can be stable, savvy, politically adept and in control, but poets should be melancholic, doomed and self-destructive. Is this just a myth, or is there some essential truth behind it: that great poems only come when a poet's life is pushed right to an emotional knife-edge of acceptability, safety, security?

Today the poets explore the lives - and tragic deaths - of Thomas Chatterton and Dylan Thomas.

Written and read by the authors
Abridged for radio by Lauris Morgan Griffiths
Produced by Simon Richardson.

Release date:

15 minutes

Last on

Tue 21 Feb 2017 00:30


Role Contributor
ReaderMichael Symmons Roberts
ReaderPaul Farley
AuthorMichael Symmons Roberts
AuthorPaul Farley
AbridgerLauris Morgan Griffiths
ProducerSimon Richardson

The myth of the doomed poet

Dylan Thomas

Exploring the remarkable lives and deaths of seven famous poets.