Radio 3's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performance
Planets - Experiments in Living
Ian McMillan and guests delight in the writing and naming of planets (Ian loves Neptune best), exploring how we as writers influence the perception of them, and how our perception may influence how humans treat them.
Bettany Hughes is a historian, author and broadcaster. She shares her passion for Venus (planet and goddess) and looks at the first poem where the moon is depicted as 'silvery'. Bettany is exploring the big questions of the universe in films called 'Tea with B', and in her interview with author Ben Okri describes poetry as 'The Mothership'.
Two of the earth's most exciting sound poets - Hannah Silva and Tomomi Adachi tell Ian how they created sound poetry for Pluto, and explored its ambiguous status (it is not officially a planet any more). They also perform a spontaneous sound poem, especially for The Verb, celebrating the vast number of icy bodies with fascinating names in the Kuiper Belt.
JO Morgan's collection 'The Martian's Regress' is a remarkable thought experiment - imagining humans leaving Earth for Mars, and then returning here in thousands of years’ time, only to be disappointed by our solitary moon. In poems which explore what it means to 'subjugate' a planet to make it support life, Morgan also considers the role of myth and story in building our relationship with a planet.
Kate Greene almost lived on Mars. She was one of a team selected by Nasa to take part in an experiment in Hawaii, where she lived in a geodesic dome for four months in order to simulate what it would be like on Mars. A journalist, author and poet, Kate found herself thinking differently, and considering the relationship of the body to the Earth. Her account of the experience can be found in her book 'Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars'.
Spring Poetry: ambivalence and beauty - Experiments in Living
As spring arrives, Ian McMillan and guests consider ambivalence and beauty in writing about spring.
This week Ian peers into the yellow heart of the daffodil to find out what makes a great spring poem, and shares poetry by some of the most remarkable poets of our moment, as well as those inspired by the colours of crocuses past. Spring is always beautiful, but there is earthiness and grief in the language of the season too. His guests will include writers and those who work with and study the earth itself.
Ian is joined by Booker prize winning novelist and keen gardener Penelope Lively who has contributed an essay to the new anthology 'In The Garden' (Daunt) on 'the Gardening Eye', passing the passion for growing on to her daughters, and gardening later in life.
In his poem 'Here Too Spring Comes to Us with Open Arms', Caleb Femi takes us to spring on a South London Estate. Femi has just published 'Poor' (Penguin), his debut collection of poetry.
In books such as the T.S Eliot prize shortlisted collection 'The Mizzy' (Picador), Paul Farley turns our attention to the overlooked and unloved places, finding spring thrives here just as in the meadow.
We also hear a selection of poems recorded as part of Radio 3's Spring Poetry season and read by Colin Tierney and Indira Varma:
Crocuses - Richard Meier
Lines Written in early Spring - William Wordsworth
April - Mona Arshi
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now - AE Housman
March - Patrick Kavanagh
I So Liked Spring - Charlotte Mew
Presenter: Ian McMillan
Producer: Jessica Treen
Writing at Home - Experiments in Living
Ian McMillan on how 'writing at home' inspires, constrains and infuses language and storytelling - with guests Maggie O'Farrell, whose award-winning novel 'Hamnet' takes us inside Shakespeare's home, the unofficial Poet Laureate of Twitter Brian Bilston, Berlin-based writer and football pundit Musa Okwonga, and poet Holly Peste, who has written a specially commissioned piece inspired by the sound of writing at home.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
The Great Gatsby
This year, F Scott Fitzgerald's classic The Great Gatsby enters the public domain. What will this mean for one of America's best loved novels?
Ian McMillan is joined by the academic and writer Sarah Churchwell, author of 'Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the invention of The Great Gatsby', to discuss why the language of the book is still so resonant to us today.
And poet and playwright Inua Ellams considers the quality of 'emptiness' in the text and how Fitzgerald's writing made this glittering world of parties feel so hollow.
Jonathan Bate's new book is 'Bright Star, Green Light: The Beautiful and Damned Lives of John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald'. Bate joins us to take us on a 'Keatsian' reading of The Great Gatsby
And to examine the idea of the public domain, we'll also be looking at what it means to remix and play around with a text with musician, broadcaster and technologist LJ Rich. LJ is a synesthete - how does she Fitzgerald's book, famously drenched in colour from green lights to yellow cocktail music?
Presenter: Ian McMillan
Producer: Jessica Treen
Gratitude - Experiments in Living
In a world of daily pleases and thank-yous, obligatory thank-you notes, and polite appreciation how can we express authentic gratitude with sincerity? Has lockdown made us more grateful? Can the expectation of gratitude be a burden?
Poet Kate Fox assesses the etiquette of writers’ acknowledgements – who to thank? How much is too much? Is there such a thing as oversharing? Comedy writer Jack Bernhardt imagines how grateful you’d have to be – forever - if Superman saved your life. Sound artist Leafcutter John makes gratitude reverberate through a sheet of steel, and poet Michael Symmons Roberts reflects on the complexity of expressing gratitude in praise poetry, in a post secular world.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
Guilty pleasure. Airport novel. Holiday reading.
The language used to describe crime fiction often suggests that there's something throwaway in the ability to craft a gripping story that keeps the reader guessing. There's a suggestion that creating"a page-turner" is something of a lesser skill when it comes to writing.
Creeping up on that idea from behind and leaving its body in the library we have three women who know a thing or two about the literature of crime.
Val McDermid is a powerhouse of popular fiction, with works translated into 40 languages and more than 16 million books sold. She tells us about the narrative techniques she uses to keep us up late reading "just one more chapter" of novels like"Still Life".
Sophie Hannah has been trusted with one of the crown jewels of detective fiction - Hercule Poirot. She tells us about the responsibility of taking on Agatha Christie's beloved character, and about how she switches modes for nail biters like "Haven't they Grown".
Katherine Stansfield writes the historical crime series The Cornish Mysteries - and tells us about one of the initial efforts to make the crime genre "respectable" - formalised techniques and rules drawn up by a collection of some of the greatest popular fiction writers in the world - The Detection Club.
Presented by Ian McMillan
Produced by Kevin Core