Radio 3's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performance
This week on The Verb we're thinking about the language of repair. Ian McMillan and guests discuss poetry's ability to heal, putting literary puzzles back together again, finding what was once lost, and the often impenetrable vocabularies of 'getting stuff fixed'.
Ian is joined by Chris McCabe, poet and National Poetry Librarian. During lockdown the Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library ran the 'lost quotes' service, reuniting remembered fragments of poems with the rest of the text. His latest book is 'Buried Garden', in which he searches for the lost poets of Stoke Newington's Abney Park Cemetery, hoping to revive their forgotten words. Mona Arshi has just published 'Somebody Loves You', a poetic novel about a young girl who chooses silence as a protective mechanism when everything around her feels fragile. The poet William Letford used to be a roofer, and he's written a brand new poem especially for The Verb about returning to his old profession to help out family. And Kate Fox considers repair and the meaning of home.
Presenter: Ian McMillan
Producer: Jessica Treen
The Everyday Verb
Ian McMillan explores diaries and writing inspired by day-to-day life with Michael Rosen, whose book 'Many Different Kinds of Love' recounts his experiences in hospital with coronavirus and features extracts from the diaries of his nurses, doctors and wife, Lauren Elkin, whose book 'No. 91/92: notes on a Parisian commute' consists entirely of notes made in her smartphone, and Christopher Green, whose immersive digital project The Home evokes day-to-day life in care homes in the UK and Japan. Plus poet Suna Afshan on her translations for the Tape Letters project - uncovering the Pothwari audio messages sent home on cassette by Pakistanis who migrated and settled in the UK in the 60s and 70s.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
The Pretentious Verb
Ian McMillan explores and delights in pretentiousness - in language and in writers. What do we mean when we say a piece of writing or a performer is pretentious?
Ian's guests include the poet Luke Wright who shares a tour de force poem in defence of pretentiousness and pretentious things (eg children called 'Hopscotch and Entwhistle', 'carpaccio of stoat' smeared across a brick, 'tweedy too-short trousers' ). Also on the programme, the spoken word poet Jenny Lindsay delves deep into the art of the humblebrag (the pretence of self-deprecation, most frequently spotted on social media ) with a brand new poem. Angie Hobbs, (Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield) takes us back to Ancient Greece to talk about pretentious sandal-wearing on the part of great philosophers' acolytes - and she explains how Plato, the founding father of Western philosophy shows his teacher Socrates dealing with pretentious orators. And finally writer and critic Tomiwa Owolade explores the advice given by George Orwell on how to avoid pretentious prose - and finds out whether Orwell always followed his own advice.
Ian McMillan meets Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo to explore her poetry, her essays and her fiction - to find out about her writing process and how it has evolved, her sources of inspiration and her influences.
As energy prices rise, electric cars charge, and the COP summit in Glasgow burns the midnight, er, electricity, we turn up the voltage on the language generated by that invisible force and think about our relationship with it. Ian's guests are the novelist and poet Ben Okri, the lexicographer Susie Dent, the futures ethnographer Laura Watts, and the actor and podcaster Kerry Shale, as Bob Dylan...
Ian McMillan on the language and poetry of puddings - with Lorraine Bowen, Joseph Coelho, Kate Fox, Frances Atkins and Fariha Shaikh.
Singer, comedian and songwriter Lorraine Bowen is known to many as the 'Crumble Lady' - her song about cooking crumble won her huge audiences on 'Britain's Got Talent', and went viral on social media. We find out about how the word 'crumble' translates into other languages and Ian offers a Yorkshire dialect interpretation of the 'Crumble Song'.
Joseph Coelho shares his spooky pudding poetry and reads a special commission for The Verb - a poem which explores the pleasure of disastrous puddings. His first poetry collection 'Werewolf Club Rules' was published in 2014.
What if Emily Dickinson, T.S.Eliot and Maya Angelou took part in a poetry themed bake-off? That's the kind of thought experiment that stand-up poet Kate Fox likes to conduct for The Verb. She imagines their baking - and wonders if you can tell how well a poet will cook from their poetry.
D Fariha Shaikh is a New Generation Thinker and Senior Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Birmingham. She tells us about the pudding making of emigrant Catharine Parr Traill, born in 1801, who emigrated to Canada and wrote many books on her life there and on natural history, for women readers in particular.
Frances Atkins is a Michelin star winning chef. She explains the difference between a pudding and a dessert and argues that descriptive pudding names are most likely to excite the palate.
My favourite podcast
I listen to all sorts of stuff on podcasts; science, news, comedy, history, drama and stories, but these are the episodes I look forward to most.
if you’re a poet and you *don’t* know it, listen to this podcast
a wonderful series of entertaining & thought provoking conversations between poets and authors about their craft which is intellectually stimulating yet accessible at the same time. as someone who hasn’t really “gotten” poetry before, this show is giving me a newfound appreciation for language and the fascinating ways in which writers craft their work
I love this podcast. What helps it move so smoothly over different ideas funny, thoughtful, sad, etc is the host Ian. I have spread the word about The Verb to my friends and work colleagues, all have been impressed with the subjects covered.
I also love the extras given on the podcasts. The Verb = great stuff.