BBC Poetry Season – update

The BBC’s Poetry Season is now fully up-and-rhyming. Last weekend, BBC Four showed a series of programmes – some old, some new – about Wilfred Owen, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes, Stevie Smith, Philip Larkin, Carol Ann Duffy, W. H. Auden and Radio 4’s long-running Poetry Please. A few are still available to watch on iPlayer, along with Ian Hislop’s witty and interesting look at the role of Poet Laureate, The Changing of the Bard.

But there’s plenty more to come, including:

Griff Rhys Jones: Why Poetry Matters
Wednesday 20 May, 21:00, BBC Two

Join Griff Rhys Jones on a personal journey to find out why we should care about poetry.

Off By Heart
Friday 22 May, 21:00, BBC Two

A documentary following primary-school children preparing for a national poetry recital competition.

Simon Schama’s John Donne
Tuesday 26 May, 21:00, BBC Two

Simon Schama celebrates the life and work of Britain’s greatest love poet, John Donne.

Armando Iannucci in Milton’s Heaven and Hell
Wednesday 27 May, 21:00, BBC Two

Armando Iannucci explores his passion for John Milton – a poet whose preoccupation with ideas of sin, liberty and the fall of man, may seem out of step with 21st century Britain but, as Iannucci reveals, has never been more relevant.

Arena: TS Eliot
Sunday 31 May, Time TBC, BBC Two

A profile of TS Eliot which, with unprecedented co-operation from the Eliot Estate, tells the story of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated and elusive writers.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Thursday 4 Jun, 21:00, BBC Four

Having published an acclaimed translation of the 14th-century poem, Simon Armitage goes on the trail of the mythical Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The Poetry Season website is also well worth a visit. It has What’s On listings for TV and Radio; an Events guide; short features about, and sample poems by, a selection of great writers; and a (well-intentioned but rather meaningless) vote to find Britain’s Favourite Poet.

In addition, SKY Arts (channel 256 – an oasis in the digital desert) will be broadcasting a daily round-up of this year’s Guardian Hay Festival, Hay-On-Sky, presented by The Book Show’s Mariella Frostrup, starting this Friday at 19:00.

Who needs to go out?

12 thoughts on “BBC Poetry Season – update”

  1. Good morning, and I hope you don’t mind if I post a link to my short film adaptation of John Donne’s poem ‘Woman’s Constancy’… this was a finalist in the ShootingPeople/Destricted Short Film Competition, was screened at the ICA, London and subsequently invited to screen at Britspotting, Berlin.

    I should also say the film isn’t necessarily safe for work or younger viewers.

    Many thanks

    John Le Brocq


  2. Could you let us have some leaflets/posters or other promotional material for the BBC Poetry Season? We are the Stock Unit of Suffolk libraries and can cover the libraries in 44 Suffolk towns.
    We have had a number of enquiries about these programmes.

    Our address:

    Stock Unit
    Saxon House
    1 Whittle Road
    Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate
    IP2 0JB

    Many thanks in advance from
    Keith Dersley
    Support Stock Assistant
    Stock Unit

  3. The Wordsworth one was awful – anyone else notice the presenter drawing our attention to the ‘surprising apostrophe’ – very surprising indeed as it was an exclamation mark …!

  4. The Wordsworth one was awful – anyone else notice the presenter drawing our attention to the ’surprising apostrophe’ – very surprising indeed as it was an exclamation mark …!

  5. By the way,I do realise that the literary use of apostrophe could be applied to the address ‘Dear God!’ in ‘Westminster Bridge’ but feel it was inappropriate in the context of the programme – especially when the address was clearly exclamatory.

  6. I was impressed by the Julian Glover excerpts during Michael Woods’ Poetry Season programme on the Bowulf poem and went straight on to Amazon reasoning that there might be a DVD available of his (Glover’s) full presentation.

    There was nothing apart from a book and audio cassette from the 80s. Perhaps if the BBC or some entrepreneur produced one it might sell very well.

  7. I am thoroughly enjoying the poetry season and promise not to moan about the licence fee ever again. The poetry, photography and the presentations have been excellent. Val

  8. Just for the record, Elaine, that wasn’t the only thing about the ‘Westminster Bridge’ effort that I thought ‘awful’. It seemed much more interested in telling us about Wordsworth’s love life than about the poem for one thing.

    I taught a class on that poem the week it was on and my students all said they were frustrated at the lack of time (in only a thirty minute show) given to the language and structure – as for the ‘apostrophe’ jargon irritates me as it excludes, simple as that.

  9. As a poet, writing for sixty-five years. I still remember sonnets of Keats, Wordsworth and Shakespeare. I think all children should read The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and all adults, over fourteen, should read Alfred Noyse’s The Highwayman, for their sensuous and lyrical quality. Gerard Manley Hopkins, and John Donne, require quality speakers, and John of the Cross, is meditative in Spanish or English.
    I would like to share my poetry with Milton’s by reading allowed in libraries schools, or on the radio or television.
    Children like nonsense poetry.One such I know, but do not know where it came from is “I went to the pictures tomorrow, and took a front seat at the back. A lady, she gave me some chocolate. I ate it and gave her it back. I went round a straight, crooked corner, and saw a dead donkey die.When I lifted my pistol to shoot it, it gave me one right in the eye.It is, of course, doggerel. Where did that word come from?

  10. Hi,
    I recently asked you to send me promotional materials for the poetry season, which you kindly did, sending 3 boxes. It would be great if you could let me have one more box.

    I am emailing from the Stock Unit of Suffolk Libraries.

    The address is:

    Stock Unit
    Saxon House
    1 Whittle Road
    Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate
    IP2 0JB

    As stated before, we send to all of Suffolk’s 44 libraries from here at the Stock Unit, so we can give fair coverage for these exciting events.

    Kind regards,
    Keith Dersley

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