53 episodes

The Poetry Exchange celebrates poems as friends. Through conversations, gift recordings and our podcast we capture the insights of readers and share them.

The Poetry Exchange The Poetry Exchange

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    • 4.6 • 40 Ratings

The Poetry Exchange celebrates poems as friends. Through conversations, gift recordings and our podcast we capture the insights of readers and share them.

    A Short Story of Falling by Alice Oswald - A Friend to Charlie

    A Short Story of Falling by Alice Oswald - A Friend to Charlie

    In this episode, Charlie talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'A Short Story of Falling' by Alice Oswald.

    Charlie joined The Poetry Exchange online, via video call, for one of our 'Lockdown Exchanges' and is in conversation with Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett Alistair Snell.

    Many thanks to Alice Oswald and United Agents for granting us permission to share the poem in this capacity. Find out more about Alice and her work here:

    www.unitedagents.co.uk/alice-oswald

    Al reads the gift reading of 'A Short Story of Falling'.

    *****

    A Short Story of Falling

    It is the story of the falling rain
    to turn into a leaf and fall again

    it is the secret of a summer shower
    to steal the light and hide it in a flower

    and every flower a tiny tributary
    that from the ground flows green and momentary

    is one of water's wishes and this tale
    hangs in a seed-head smaller than my thumbnail

    if only I a passerby could pass
    as clear as water through a plume of grass

    to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
    turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip

    then I might know like water how to balance
    the weight of hope against the light of patience

    water which is so raw so earthy-strong
    and lurks in cast-iron tanks and leaks along

    drawn under gravity towards my tongue
    to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song

    which is the story of the falling rain
    that rises to the light and falls again


    Reprinted by permission of Alice Oswald and United Agents
    Source: Falling Awake (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2016)

    • 28 min
    Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns and I Am by John Clare - Poems as Friends to Brian Cox

    Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns and I Am by John Clare - Poems as Friends to Brian Cox

    In this episode, world-renowned actor, Brian Cox CBE talks with us about two poems that have been friends to him – 'Ae Fond Kiss' by Robert Burns and 'I am' by John Clare.

    Brian joined The Poetry Exchange online, from his home, over the course of lockdown in 2020. He is a Scottish actor who works in film, television and theatre, and as a multiple award-winner, has gained huge respect in the industry for the many captivating roles he has undertaken. He currently stars in HBO's critically acclaimed television series, 'Succession'.

    Michael reads the gift reading of 'I Am'.

    *****

    Ae Fond Kiss
    by Robert Burns

    Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
    Ae fareweel, and then forever!
    Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
    Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
    Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
    While the star of hope she leaves him?
    Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me;
    Dark despair around benights me.

    I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
    Naething could resist my Nancy;
    But to see her was to love her;
    Love but her, and love forever.
    Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
    Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
    Never met—or never parted—
    We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

    Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
    Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
    Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
    Peace. enjoyment, love, and pleasure!
    Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
    Ae fareweel, alas, forever!
    Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
    Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee!

    *****

    I Am
    by John Clare

    I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;
    My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
    I am the self-consumer of my woes—
    They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
    Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
    And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed

    Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
    Into the living sea of waking dreams,
    Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
    But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
    Even the dearest that I loved the best
    Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

    I long for scenes where man hath never trod
    A place where woman never smiled or wept
    There to abide with my Creator, God,
    And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
    Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
    The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

    • 32 min
    Spring and Fall By Gerard Manley Hopkins - A Friend To Vahni Capildeo

    Spring and Fall By Gerard Manley Hopkins - A Friend To Vahni Capildeo

    In this episode, Forward Prize-winning poet Vahni Capildeo talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to them – 'Spring and Fall' by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

    Vahni joined The Poetry Exchange online, from their family home in Trinidad, as part of City of Literature - a week of conversations, reflections and connections presented by the National Centre for Writing and Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

    www.nnfestival.org.uk
    www.nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk

    Vahni Capildeo is a Trinidadian Scottish writer inspired by other voices, ranging from live Caribbean connexions and an Indian diaspora background to the landscapes where Capildeo travels and lives. Their poetry includes Measures of Expatriation, awarded the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2016, and Venus as a Bear, published in 2018.

    You can discover more about and purchase Vahni Capildeo's work at the Carcanet website (Vahni's publisher): https://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?owner_id=1167

    Michael Shaeffer reads the gift reading of Spring and Fall.

    You will also hear Fiona mention some new publications by members of our creative team:

    Andrea Witzke Slot's 'The Ministry of Flowers' is published by Valley Press: https://www.valleypressuk.com/book-info.php?book_id=146

    Victoria Field's 'A Speech of Birds' is published by Francis Boutle: https://francisboutle.co.uk/products/a-speech-of-birds/

    Sarah Salway's 'Let's Dance' is published by Coast to Coast, Spring 2021 and 'Not Sorry', a collection of flash fiction, is published by Valley Press Spring/Summer 2021. www.sarahsalway.co.uk

    *********
    Spring and Fall
    by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    to a young child

    Márgarét, áre you gríeving
    Over Goldengrove unleaving?
    Leáves like the things of man, you
    With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
    Ah! ás the heart grows older
    It will come to such sights colder
    By and by, nor spare a sigh
    Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
    And yet you wíll weep and know why.
    Now no matter, child, the name:
    Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
    Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
    What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
    It ís the blight man was born for,
    It is Margaret you mourn for.

    • 25 min
    "Hope" is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson - A Friend to Lucy

    "Hope" is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson - A Friend to Lucy

    In this episode, Lucy talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to her – "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson.

    Emily joined The Poetry Exchange online, via video call, for one of our 'Lockdown Exchanges' that took place as part of City of Literature - a week of conversations, reflections and connections presented by the National Centre for Writing and Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

    Many thanks to our partners, the National Centre for Writing and Norfolk & Norwich Festival for enabling this to go ahead in spite of the physical restrictions. Do visit them for more inspiration:

    www.nnfestival.org.uk
    www.nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk

    Please also visit Lucy's website, 'The Rainbow Poems' to discover a space dedicated to sharing a colourful array of poems:

    www.therainbowpoems.co.uk

    Fiona reads the gift reading of "Hope" is the thing with feathers.

    *********

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)
    by Emily Dickinson

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers -
    That perches in the soul -
    And sings the tune without the words -
    And never stops - at all -

    And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
    And sore must be the storm -
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm -

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
    And on the strangest Sea -
    Yet - never - in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb - of me.


    Emily Dickinson, "'Hope' is the Thing with Feathers" from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

    • 26 min
    Vers De Société by Philip Larkin - Poem as Friend to Stephen

    Vers De Société by Philip Larkin - Poem as Friend to Stephen

    In this episode, Stephen Beresford talks about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'Vers De Société' by Philip Larkin.

    Stephen visited The Poetry Exchange in London. He is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett.

    Stephen is a highly acclaimed Film, TV and Theatre Writer. Find out more about Stephen and his work here:

    www.independenttalent.com/writers/stephen-beresford/

    Michael reads the gift reading of 'Vers De Société'.

    *****

    My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
    To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps
    You’d care to join us? In a pig’s arse, friend.
    Day comes to an end.
    The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed.
    And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I’m afraid—

    Funny how hard it is to be alone.
    I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,
    Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted
    Over to catch the drivel of some bitch
    Who’s read nothing but Which;
    Just think of all the spare time that has flown

    Straight into nothingness by being filled
    With forks and faces, rather than repaid
    Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind,
    And looking out to see the moon thinned
    To an air-sharpened blade.
    A life, and yet how sternly it’s instilled

    All solitude is selfish. No one now
    Believes the hermit with his gown and dish
    Talking to God (who’s gone too); the big wish
    Is to have people nice to you, which means
    Doing it back somehow.
    Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines

    Playing at goodness, like going to church?
    Something that bores us, something we don’t do well
    (Asking that ass about his fool research)
    But try to feel, because, however crudely,
    It shows us what should be?
    Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell,

    Only the young can be alone freely.
    The time is shorter now for company,
    And sitting by a lamp more often brings
    Not peace, but other things.
    Beyond the light stand failure and remorse
    Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course—


    Philip Larkin, "Vers de Société" from Collected Poems. Copyright © Estate of Philip Larkin. Reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber, Ltd.

    Photo Credit: Rory Campbell Photography

    • 32 min
    Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas - Poem as Friend to Adrian

    Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas - Poem as Friend to Adrian

    In this episode, Adrian talks about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'Fern Hill' by Dylan Thomas.

    Adrian joined The Poetry Exchange online, via video call, for one of our 'Lockdown Exchanges' that took place as part of City of Literature - a week of conversations, reflections and connections presented by the National Centre for Writing and Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

    Many thanks to our partners, the National Centre for Writing and Norfolk & Norwich Festival for enabling this to go ahead in spite of the physical restrictions. Do visit them for more inspiration:

    www.nnfestival.org.uk
    www.nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk

    Our thanks also to David Higham Associates and Dylan Thomas Trust for permission to share the poem. For more information about the poet and his work, please visit:

    www.discoverdylanthomas.com

    Adrian is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and Michal Shaeffer.

    Michael reads the gift reading of 'Fern Hill'.

    *****

    Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
    About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
    The night above the dingle starry,
    Time let me hail and climb
    Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
    And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
    And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
    Trail with daisies and barley
    Down the rivers of the windfall light.

    And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
    About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
    In the sun that is young once only,
    Time let me play and be
    Golden in the mercy of his means,
    And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
    Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
    And the sabbath rang slowly
    In the pebbles of the holy streams.

    All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
    Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
    And playing, lovely and watery
    And fire green as grass.
    And nightly under the simple stars
    As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
    All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
    Flying with the ricks, and the horses
    Flashing into the dark.

    And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
    With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
    Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
    The sky gathered again
    And the sun grew round that very day.
    So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
    In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
    Out of the whinnying green stable
    On to the fields of praise.

    And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
    Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
    In the sun born over and over,
    I ran my heedless ways,
    My wishes raced through the house high hay
    And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
    In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
    Before the children green and golden
    Follow him out of grace,

    Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
    Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
    In the moon that is always rising,
    Nor that riding to sleep
    I should hear him fly with the high fields
    And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
    Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
    Time held me green and dying
    Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
40 Ratings

40 Ratings

cjstairmand ,

A wonder!

I was introduced to The Poetry Exchange by a dear friend when I suddenly found a muse inside. It is opening so many doors for me, with new works and wonderful analyses, driving more reading for me. Thank you!

Janethom ,

Don’t know who Walt Whitman is?

Who are these people ?

sagginabit ,

Excellent, generous, inspiring podcast!

Entertaining, varied, relevant, I’m delighted I found this podcast. I’ve recently joined a sustainable self-build co-housing project. Exciting, but also a bit scary. Since I found Ben’s House Planning Help podcast, I’ve learnt so much and feel infinitely better informed about the implications of all those decisions I’ll be making.

Thanks Ben, for sharing self-build experience and knowledge so generously. One day the mainstream building companies will cotton on to sustainable house building. In the meantime, keep up the great work Ben!

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