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44 minutes | Jul 15, 2022
It's the last Verb before we break up for the summer term, so we're having an end of term games day. Games Writer Rhianna Pratchett has worked across many games in a 20 year career. Some are big studio titles like Tomb Raider, where she was brought in to update the character of Lara Croft for a new generation, and others are indie games like Sketchbook Games’ ‘The Lost Words’, a game that Rhianna was involved in from early development and which was inspired by her own personal experiences of grief. Philip Terry, poet and editor of 'The Penguin Book of Oulipo' lets us into the world of avant-garde language games. It’s Oulipo vs the Surrealists…get your Exquisite Corpse at the ready. And verb regular Ira Lightman embraces the chaos and creates poetry with the roll of a dice. He’s built our very own Verb board game, Snakes and Ladders and Words! We also look ahead to the 'Sound of Gaming' Prom, the very first prom to centre on Computer games music with Sound of Gaming presenter Louise Blain, who also gives us an insight into the narrative possibilities computer games can offer us. Our 'Something New' this week comes from poet Will Harris. and our Something Old Archive recording is Adrian Henri reading ‘She Loves me’ Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
44 minutes | Jul 8, 2022
Michael Longley is one of Northern Ireland's foremost contemporary poets. His debut collection, 'No Continuing City', was published to acclaim in 1969 and since then he has published many more collections of verse, including 'Gorse Fires', which won the Whitbread Prize, and 'The Weather in Japan', which won the T.S. Eliot prize and the Hawthornden Prize. His major themes are war, nature and love. Perhaps his best-known poem is 'Ceasefire', which, like many of his poems was inspired by The Iliad and was first published in the Irish Times in 1994 thr week the ceasefire was announced. Michael lives in Belfast, but spends much of his time in Carrigskeewaun, which provides the backdrop for many of his nature poems. But for Michael, the love poem is the most important. If poetry is a wheel, as he says 'The hub of the wheel is love' Ian visits Michael at home in Belfast for a conversation that ranges over a career in poetry that spans over 50 years. Michael published 'The Candlelight Master' in 2020 and later this year will see publication of his latest collection 'The Slain Birds'. Together they talk about form, trees, writers block, the passing of time and the joy of grandchildren. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
44 minutes | Jul 1, 2022
Ian McMillan explores the language, poetry and perceptions of old age with Fleur Adcock who has been writing poetry for seven decades, comedian Pope Lonergan who has written a memoir of his ten years working in a care home, and psychotherapist Jane Campbell who at the age of 80 is publishing her debut collection of short stories this month. And in our Something Old Something New series celebrating 100 years of poetry on the BBC we hear an archive poem from Michael Longley, and a new commission from Rachael Boast, inspired by hearing an 1890 recording of Tennyson reading The Charge of the Light Brigade. Producer: Ruth Thomson
44 minutes | Jun 24, 2022
Ian McMillan explores the language and complexities of male friendship with poet Michael Pederson whose book Boy Friends is 'a paean to all the gorgeous male friendships that have transformed his life', comedian Max Dickins who proposed to his girlfriend then realised he had no-one to be his best man, and film expert Adam Scovell who explores on-screen relationships from the buddy movie to the bromance. And poet Daljit Nagra reads his specially commissioned work Air for our Something Old Something New feature, celebrating 100 years of poetry on the BBC. Producer: Ruth Thomson
44 minutes | Jun 17, 2022
Music and Words
Adelle Stripe's Ten Thousand Apologies: Fat White Family and the Miracle of Failure charts the gripping chaos and self-sabotage of a classic " drug band with a rock problem". She shares something in common with all our guests this week, who all stand at the crossroads of words and music. Her book describes a band who while plumbing the depths of personal behaviour and let's be honest - personal hygiene - maintain a strangely pure artistic vision. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon has also been trying to bottle the lightning of musical creativity on the page. He's edited and annotated a comprehensive collection of Sir Paul McCartney's lyrics. Paul explains how to look anew at songs we know so well and considers a talent that the best songwriters and poets often share: mimicry. Malika Booker reads a specially commissioned poem in our Something Old, Something New section, taking as her inspiration a line from The Verb Manifesto. From the archive, we hear Tony Harrison's Them and Uz. Anthony Joseph has been on a quest to learn more about a father he describes as largely absent. The result is "Sonnets for Albert", which explores the sonnet form yet infuses it with calypso and the natural delivery of his father's voice. Anthony performs his poem "Rings" for us. And Edmund Finnis tells us about Out of the Dawn's Mind, currently touring with the Soprano Ruby Hughes. He describes the challenge, not of capturing music on the page, but of travelling in the other direction, and bringing five poems of Alice Oswald from the page to musical life. Presented by Ian McMillan Produced by Kevin Core
44 minutes | Jun 10, 2022
The Verb at Hay
In the second of two programmes recorded in front of an audience at this year's Hay Festival, Ian McMillan is joined by Jennifer Egan, Gurnaik Johal and Allie Esiri. Jennifer Egan won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for her novel 'A Visit from the Goon Squad', she has just published a companion novel, 'The Candy House'. Gurnaik Johal's debut short story collection is 'We Move', a group of tales that chart multiple generations of immigrants in West London. Allie Esiri is an award-winning anthologist and curator and host of live poetry events. She has edited the best-selling poetry anthologies Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year, A Poem for Every Day of the Year and A Poem for Every Night of the Year. Our 'Something Old, Something New' commission is from Liz Berry, author of Black Country and The Republic of Motherhood. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
44 minutes | Jun 3, 2022
The Verb at Hay
Ian McMillan is always at home in front of a crowd, and in this programme, recorded at Hay Festival, he is joined by some of our most exciting writers, performers and poets to explore the idea of homeliness - literal or metaphorical and to ask if writing can be a kind of home. His guests are: the poet Lemn Sissay, whose latest book, for children, is a celebration of curiosity and belonging; by Monica Ali, who casts her eye across family matters in her new novel 'Love Marriage'; by Daniel Morden - a consummate storyteller and performer, acquainted with all the myths of belonging; and by Tishani Doshi, whose poetry and prose is alert to the possibilities of a home - in the poem or in the body. Also in the programme - a brand new poetry commission by Pascale Petit, winner of the inaugural Laurel Prize for nature poetry - written especially for the BBC's centenary, part of our 'Something Old, Something New' series, and you can also hear a poem from the archive by Gwyneth Lewis - former National Poet of Wales.
44 minutes | May 27, 2022
The Queen's Library, Windsor Castle
Presented by Ian McMillan, The Verb, Radio 3’s showcase for the best in new poetry, writing and performance, hosts a special programme recorded in The Queen’s Library at Windsor Castle. The Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will perform a new work for the occasion, and we’ll explore rare poetic gems from the collection – annotated editions gifted to the library by his Laureate predecessors Wordsworth and Tennyson. Ian will discuss the collection with the Royal Librarian, Stella Panayotova We are also joined by Grace Nichols, recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2021 and the Young People's Laureate for London, Theresa Lola, linking verse past and present in an intimate setting with an astonishing history. Produced by Kevin Core and Jessica Treen
44 minutes | May 20, 2022
This week Ian McMillan and his guests write to uncover previously hidden worlds and consider how to use language to hide in plain sight... Mick Herron is the author of the 'Slough House; series of spy thrillers about a group of discarded and overlooked M15 agents. The first book in the series, Slow Horses has been adapted for TV starring Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb, and he has just published the eighth instalment, Bad Actors. Kayo Chingonyi discusses the Black British poetry anthology he has edited; More Fiya, a sequel to the seminal 1998 collection The Fire People, edited by Lemn Sissay. Kayo Chingonyi is a poetry editor at Bloomsbury. He won the Dylan Thomas prize for his debut poetry collection Kumukanda, and his most recent collection A Blood Condition was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Costa Poetry Award. Hannah Lowe won the Costa Book Award for her poetry collection 'The Kids'. In her chapbook Old Friends, Hannah walks the streets of Limehouse in search of traces of London's first Chinatown. Our 'Something Old, Something New commission this week comes from Sarah Howe, whose debut collection 'Loop of Jade' won the TS Eliot prize. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
47 minutes | May 13, 2022
Books and Pens
Ian McMillan's guests Emma Smith, Naush Sabah and Gerry Cambridge celebrate books and pens - and we hear a new BBC centenary commission from Imtiaz Dharker. Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford, and her new book is called 'Portable Magic - A History of Books and their Readers'. Emma explains why books are like bodies, and explores the power of the inscription. Gerry Cambridge is a poet and essayist, editor of The Dark Horse transatlantic journal - and a lover of fountain pens. Naush Sabah is a poet, with a collection called 'Litanies' now out with Guillemot Press, and runs Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal; Naush also loves fountain pens. For The Verb they agreed to create a poem together - exploring the particular resonance, and experience of writing in ink. At the end of the programme you can hear a brand new poetry commission from Imtiaz Dharker, one of our most celebrated poets, and an acclaimed artist and film-maker; part of our series marking the BBC's hundred year relationship with poets and poetry.
44 minutes | May 6, 2022
Margaret Atwood - Experiments in Living
Ian McMillan welcomes the Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood, who joins The Verb from wild woods north of Toronto, to share poems from her new collection ‘Dearly’ and to explore the preoccupations that link her poetry and fiction: what it means to have a body, our increasingly precarious relationship with the natural world, the Canadian sensibility, and the way we are caught in time like ‘mice in molasses’. Margaret reads from her iconic novel ‘The Handmaid's Tale’ and takes us back through the layers of her own past, to a time in her early childhood when she started to tell her own stories, and write plays – about strange alien creatures, and a giant that gets squashed by the moon.
44 minutes | Apr 29, 2022
Ian talks to Maggie Gee about her new novel The Red Children. It's a fascinating take on migration which mixes humour with magic - and she tells us why she sought to avoid simplistic villains in a story that so often makes the headlines. Carmen Marcus tells us about her poetry collection and podcast the Catch and its distinctly personal link to the sea. She explains how the discovery of a letter from her father set her on a course to understand the changing fishing communities of her childhood home Redcar. And a maritime classic - we assess a defining keystone of the American imagination, that unforgettable story of a denizen of the deep pitted against man's hubris - Free Willy. Whoops - Moby Dick, sorry. Professor Hester Blum of Penn State University is editing the new edition and she explains why it's weighty reputation can undermine its extraordinary playfulness. And comedy writer Madeleine Brettingham stands at the shoreline and considers if a house at the beach will automatically make her enigmatic and interesting. Presented by Ian McMillan. Produced by Kevin Core
44 minutes | Apr 22, 2022
Ancient and Modern
Ian McMillan is joined by poet Lucy Mercer whose latest collection is inspired by 16th-century emblems, behavioural scientist Nick Chater whose book The Language Game explores the development of language and conversation, debut novelist Tice Cin whose book Keeping the House tells the story of a Turkish Cypriot family in north London, and poet Glyn Maxwell with a newly commissioned work.
44 minutes | Apr 15, 2022
Ian McMillan's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performance
44 minutes | Apr 8, 2022
The Twentieth Anniversary Verb
In 2002 a new radio programme was born. It was almost called 'Saturday Speakeasy', but Radio 3 finally settled on 'The Verb'. This is our twentieth anniversary programme, so as you might expect it's packed with energetic language-play, poetry, and prose, and with five new commissions, as we reflect on the ways in which writing and performance have changed in the last two decades, and ask what might happen over the next twenty years. Ian's guests are poets Kate Fox, Malika Booker, Ira Lightman, Luke Wright, Cia Mangat (who was born the same year as The Verb), and novelist Toby Litt. We also present a piece of mystery audio which stars the award-winning poet Joelle Taylor. As if that's not enough for one week, in this episode we launch a brand new recurring feature called 'Something Old, Something New' celebrating the BBC's role in commissioning and broadcasting poetry over the last hundred years. In each programme over the next year we'll be sharing a remarkable poem from the archive, and a contemporary poet will present a new commission. This week you can hear the Irish icon and public poet W.B.Yeats reading his poem 'Song of the Old Mother' in 1935, and our contemporary poet is Luke Wright; he reads a poem called 'Covehithe Beach'.
44 minutes | Apr 1, 2022
The Verb, Ian McMillan's weekly foray into writing and language examines the appeal of risk and chance. Risk is inherent to writing every time you put words on paper; whether it's risk in the use of form, or language, or subject matter. It's the risk a writer takes when they expose their own lives or the lives of others in their writing. Booker prize winning author DBC Pierre talks about his latest book 'Big Snake, Little Snake: An Inquiry into Gambling and Life'; Hannah Silva on the unpredictability of collaborating with an A-I algorithm for her latest play; poet and novelist Helen Mort, who's always been drawn to the thrill and risk of rock climbing, examines how the world views women who aren't afraid to take risks in her new book 'A Line Above the Sky' and poet Will Harris examines the role of the chance encounter in literature. Producer: Cecile Wright
44 minutes | Mar 25, 2022
After Dark Festival: The Chance to Change
The Equinox is a time of change, and at a special recording for Radio 3's After Dark Festival, The Verb's master of metamorphosis Ian McMillan presents a plethora of poets from Sage Gateshead. Our contribution to this major new live music festival, it's a feast of contemporary, classical and experimental music too and you can find out more searching "After Dark Festival" in BBC Sounds. We'll have live performances from Mike Garry bringing a flavour of Manchester to the North East and we'll also be joined by local lad Rowan McCabe - who described his "door-to-door" poetry service as "like the Avon lady but with rhymes." And we'll have a performance from the ever eclectic Kate Fox as well as John Challis and Tahmina Ali. If you like your poetry live and loud The Verb at the After Dark Festival has got you covered. Presented by Ian McMillan Produced by Kevin Core
44 minutes | Mar 11, 2022
Mothers and Daughters
The special bond of the mother and daughter - and its complexities - are up for discussion this week. Radio 3's regular writing programme hears about the concept of being "parentified" from Warsan Shire in her new collection examining the experience of displacement endured by her family. And Ruth Padel joins us to talk about Daughters of the Labyrinth, a novel which sees central character Ri investigate a secret history. Ruth also takes us through the Cretan performance poem the Mantinades, and even gives us a rendition. Think beautiful, ancient Cretan rap battle... And Hollie McNish reads us her poem Sweet Separation about the pangs felt when a daughter begins the process of developing her independence. Hollie discusses the somehow inadequate terminology of motherhood and how we consider, or rather reject, the postpartum female body. And following the death of beloved children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes, Lissa Evans describes an artist with a unique ability to capture the small details of children's lives and encompass them in kindness. She discusses how Shirley's work made a difference to her non-traditional family, and how adopting daughters led to an interest in the experience of wartime evacuees. Her latest book is V for Victory. Presented by Ian McMillan. Produced by Kevin Core.
44 minutes | Mar 4, 2022
On The Verb this week Ian McMillan is up for a fight. We're delving into the world of the adversary. He'll be talking to Man Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James about Moon Witch, Spider King the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy, asking why the sequel explores the psychology of a witch - a character more generally associated with evil deeds than inner motivations. Hannah Lowe, fresh from a Costa Book of the Year win for her collection The Kids, will be exploring the adversarial side of the classroom, and unveils a special commission for The Verb. Unbuckled takes us into the world of an adversarial romantic relationship - with sad echoes of the Cinderella story. And when it comes to the villain of the piece - how can you top Satan himself? The name means "adversary" in Hebrew. So we're about get Satanic with Joe Moshenska. He's published a new book, Making Darkness Light, The Lives and Times of John Milton. He'll be explaining how the poet's compelling, smooth-talking creation became the template for a new type of antihero. Look no further than Paradise Lost for your embryonic Tony Sopranos and Walter Whites. And you can't talk adversaries in literature without touching on crime. Jane Casey's new novel is called The Killing Kind. When her life is threatened defence barrister Ingrid turns to a sinister stalker she helped to exonerate for help. Where does a classic Faustian deal with the devil come in the world of adversarial writing - and how much should we root for the bad guy? Presented by Ian McMillan Produced by Kevin Core
45 minutes | Feb 25, 2022
Ian McMillan goes to the extremes this week to explore writing from the edges of time and place with Shetland based poet Jen Hadfield, John Henry Falle aka The Story Beast, Penelope Shuttle who's latest poetry collection explores Lyonesse, a lost and mythical land that once formed the land's end of Cornwall and Jon Ransom who's debut novel is a visceral and poetic story set in the wide expanses of Norfolk.
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