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Jean Toomer's Cane adapted, Bloomsday, Alison Brackenbury, Museums in lockdown

Jean Toomer's Cane adapted, Bloomsday in Dublin, poetry from Alison Brackenbury, Museums during lockdown

In 1923, African American author Jean Toomer published the novel Cane. It wasn’t a best seller at the time but is now held as a modernist classic and a central work of The Harlem Renaissance. A new radio adaptation is to be broadcast on Radio 4. We speak to playwright Janice Okoh and score composer, soul singer Carleen Anderson.

Today is Bloomsday, when Dubliners celebrate James Joyce’s Ulysses, the novel about Irish newspaper advertising salesman Leopold Bloom wandering round the city. As Ireland is emerging from lockdown events are moving online and for Zoomsday actor Seán Doyle is MC-ing a Joycean Punk Cabaret with an alternative presentation of extracts, songs, poems as well as Joyce’s saucier love letters. Seán joins us from Dublin just before the event begins.

Lockdown came quickly and affected arts organisations around the country with barely any warning. Venues closed their doors and hung up the “closed until further notice” signs. But what’s happening behind the closed doors? We speak to Joanna Meacock from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow and Anna Renton from Penlee House in Penzance.

For one week only Alison Brackenbury is Front Row’s poet in residence. The colsure of museums during Coronavirus has inspired Alison to write new poems about some of those she has visited. Every day this week we will be hearing one of her Museums Unlocked poems. In today’s Alison takes us to Aghanistan via a painting in the Museum of Somerset in Taunton Castle.

Presenter: John Wilson
Producer: Julian May
Studio Manager: John Boland

Available now

28 minutes

Museums under Lockdown

Museums under Lockdown
Elizabeth Adela Forbes, née Armstrong 1859-1912
School is Out, 1889
Oil on Canvas, 105 x 119 cm
Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow


Carleen Anderson

Main image: Carleen Anderson

Cane is on Radio 4 as part of the Electric Decade season on 20 Jun at 3 pm

Alison Brackenbury

Alison Brackenbury
The Remnants of An Army
by Elizabeth Butler
Credit: Tate

Museum of Somerset




Alison Brackenbury, Poet in Residence at Front Row this week, reflects on how she came to write her Museum Unlocked poems, one of which she will be introducing and reading each evening.

The horse's mouth 

Her blistered muzzle skims dry ground.
Tongue lolls past bit.  Cracked hooves have found
the baked path to the fort.

The rider’s leather palms grip round
his pommel.  He has dropped the reins.
Scarlet sash swings, silk’s battered skeins.
One red eye rolls, his dead pile plains.

One man, not caught.
The men who clatter through the gate
are also mounted, smart and straight.

The General’s grey, in fear,
or puzzlement, lets fine head tilt.
The rider in the red skull cap,
rough Afghan sheepskin on his back,
does not part lips.  Though his voice cracks
they will not hear.

To shaded rooms, on a tape’s loop
a young voice from the present troop
speaks level, calm, on course:
‘For me, it’s Queen and Country!’  Scoop
the sagging man.  How, in such heat,
can Queen or country beat retreat?

Ask Generals.  Ask recruits’ torn feet.
Now ask the horse.



Bloomsday Festival

Bloomsday Festival
Sean Doyle
Photo credit: Bloomsday Festival

Bloomsday Festival

The Corps Ensemble

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  • Tue 16 Jun 2020 19:15

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