The Subjunctive Verb
Ian McMillan gets into the subjunctive mood with brand new writing from Toby Litt, a new poetry commission from Holly Pester, on the subjunctive in welsh with Menna Elfyn and Rob Drummond explains why the subjunctive is dying out amongst the young...
Presenter: Ian McMillan
Producer: Cecile Wright
If you don’t know what the subjunctive is, fear not, because our resident linguist, Rob Drummond is here to explain exactly what it is. And once you’ve got to grips with it, we’re afraid that Rob is also here to report on its slow death – through Rob’s work with young people, he’s discovered that the kids are just not feeling it… can The Verb bring it back to life?
Poet Menna Elfyn explains the importance of the subjunctive to Welsh poetry, which is filled with nostalgia, melancholy and hope. She discusses the contradictions present in the use of the Welsh language today, whilst the literature is thriving, the number of speakers are declining. She reads her poem ‘Nebbish’, which plays on the dual meaning of the word ‘Bach’, which means both ‘small’ and ‘dear’ in Welsh. Menna’s latest collection, ‘Bondo’, is published by Bloodaxe.
We asked Holly Pester to write us a subjunctive poem – a brief that she admits she found hard and that hasn’t quite left her. She remains haunted by the subjunctive mood, and reads her poem, ‘First Person Heartbroken…’ which oscillates between hope and loss, and which Holly thinks she hasn’t quite finished writing yet…
We also gave Toby Litt the task of writing the subjunctive. Like Holly he wrote about love. As a teacher, Toby tries to guide his students towards the subjunctive, it’s not ‘the coolest’ way to write, but it leads to surprising places as he found out when he wrote ‘Love Subjunctively’
Toby's latest book is 'Wrestliana', published by Galley Beggars