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Writer James Walker explores the poetry of the pits in the English East Midlands. He unearths the dialect verse penned underground over decades of mining in Nottinghamshire.

Writer James Walker unearths the dialect poetry of the Nottinghamshire miners who penned their verse underground in the county where he was born and bred.

Through the humour of poems like Miner's Dream and Pity Pony, James explores a language used almost exclusively by miners and finds retired pitmen still reciting pit talk poetry in pubs and other venues across Nottinghamshire. He says: 'these men cry regularly at this poetry. Big retired pit men getting all emotional. It's quite an experience.'

As part of the programme, James visits the former home of famous Nottinghamshire novelist and poet DH Lawrence where he meets mining historian and former miner David Amos. He also talks to Natalie Braber, Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University about her research into pit talk and dialects, language and identity.

James hears some of the poems penned underground, translates the dialect and tries to understand what made so many miners turn to poetry. He also discovers how dialect pit poetry is being kept alive by forming the lyrics to new folk music.

Meanwhile part of the programme explores the Nottinghamshire dialect more widely including the use of the greeting 'duck' There's also a performance by Nottinghamshire dialect poet Bridie Squires about the local word 'mardy'.

A Made in Manchester production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 26 May 2018 23:30



  • Sun 20 May 2018 16:30
  • Sat 26 May 2018 23:30

An ear for an aye – listening to England's dialect poetry

An ear for an aye – listening to England's dialect poetry

Read the words and hear the sounds of England's regional poetry.