Contains Strong Language: BBC's poetry bonanza centred on National Poetry Day
The BBC has unveiled a new poetry season, Contains Strong Language, that will celebrate “the disruptive power of poetry”, and will be centred around National Poetry Day on 8 October. On that day We British: An Epic In Poetry will see Andrew Marr and some of Britain’s most loved poets weave their way through the Radio 4 schedule with readings, archive material interviews and conversations.
Presenter and poet Ian McMillan will join BBC Radio3 Breakfast for a special poetry edition, and will be asking contemporary writers, including Michael Symmons Roberts and Kei Miller, to champion and celebrate “undersung” poetic heroes from the past, in a special edition of The Verb. Also on Radio 3, Free Thinking will dedicate an edition to exploring Walt Whitman’s 'Leaves of Grass', and throughout National Poetry Day, new poems specially commissioned from the audience winners of Radio 3’s Proms Poetry Competition will be read live on air.
On Radio 2, Jeremy Vine, Simon Mayo and Chris Evans will all be marking National Poetry day with special programmes on 8 October while Radcliffe and Maconie will be joining the celebration on BBC Radio 6 Music with John Cooper Clarke, pictured, and Jo Bell. Throughout October, BBC Radio 1 and Radio 1 Xtra, in collaboration with BBC Arts, the Roundhouse and Arts Council England will lead regional workshops and live events across the UK as part of the Words First initiative, to find six brand-new spoken word artists, helping to propel them to the next stage of their careers.
The BBC’s director of Arts, Jonty Claypole, said: “To mark National Poetry Day, Contains Strong Language will celebrate the urgent and disruptive power of poetry, putting it at the heart of schedules, across the BBC’s channels, stations and online.”
Other highlights during the BBC’s poetry season include: a BBC2 documentary exploring the life and work of Ted Hughes, featuring an interview with his daughter Frieda Hughes; Return To Larkinland on BBC4, in which writer and critic AN Wilson revisits the life and work of Philip Larkin; Simon Armitage and Tony Harrison discuss their craft and careers in front of a live audience; Nicholas Parsons explores the Nonsense Songs of Edward Lear in The Secret Life Of Books; and Rhymes, Rock & Revolution tells the story of performance poetry. There will also be a BBC4 special on Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and a dramatisation of Simon Armitage’s Black Roses – The Killing of Sophie Lancaster.