The Poetry Exchange

A monthly Arts and Literature podcast
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In this episode, Tom talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'Aubade' by Philip Larkin. Tom visited The Poetry Exchange in February 2020 for what turned out to be our last live event of the year before lockdown. He joined us at beautiful Manchester Central Library and is in conversation with Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and Al Snell. Al reads the gift reading of 'Aubade'. ***** I work all day, and get half-drunk at night. Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. In time the curtain-edges will grow light. Till then I see what’s really always there: Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, Making all thought impossible but how And where and when I shall myself die. Arid interrogation: yet the dread Of dying, and being dead, Flashes afresh to hold and horrify. The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse —The good not done, the love not given, time Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because An only life can take so long to climb Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never; But at the total emptiness for ever, The sure extinction that we travel to And shall be lost in always. Not to be here, Not to be anywhere, And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true. This is a special way of being afraid No trick dispels. Religion used to try, That vast moth-eaten musical brocade Created to pretend we never die, And specious stuff that says No rational being Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound, No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, Nothing to love or link with, The anaesthetic from which none come round. And so it stays just on the edge of vision, A small unfocused blur, a standing chill That slows each impulse down to indecision. Most things may never happen: this one will, And realisation of it rages out In furnace-fear when we are caught without People or drink. Courage is no good: It means not scaring others. Being brave Lets no one off the grave. Death is no different whined at than withstood. Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape. It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, Have always known, know that we can’t escape, Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go. Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring Intricate rented world begins to rouse. The sky is white as clay, with no sun. Work has to be done. Postmen like doctors go from house to house. Philip Larkin, "Aubade" from Collected Poems. Copyright © Estate of Philip Larkin. Reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber, Ltd.
In this episode, Jenny talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'Mushrooms' by Sylvia Plath. Jenny joined The Poetry Exchange online and is in conversation with Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and John Prebble. Fiona reads the gift reading of 'Mushrooms'. ***** Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath Overnight, very Whitely, discreetly, Very quietly Our toes, our noses Take hold on the loam, Acquire the air. Nobody sees us, Stops us, betrays us; The small grains make room. Soft fists insist on Heaving the needles, The leafy bedding, Even the paving. Our hammers, our rams, Earless and eyeless, Perfectly voiceless, Widen the crannies, Shoulder through holes. We Diet on water, On crumbs of shadow, Bland-mannered, asking Little or nothing. So many of us! So many of us! We are shelves, we are Tables, we are meek, We are edible, Nudgers and shovers In spite of ourselves. Our kind multiplies: We shall by morning Inherit the earth. Our foot’s in the door. From Collected Poems (1981) by Sylvia Plath, published by Faber and Faber Ltd. ***** For more information surrounding our upcoming event, 'In The Company of Poems', please visit www.thepoetryexchange.co.uk
In this episode, Pádraig Ó Tuama talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'Cuimhne An Uisce' / 'A Recovered Memory of Water' by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, translated by Paul Muldoon. Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian from Ireland whose poetry and prose has been published widely across Ireland, the US and the UK. He presents Poetry Unbound with On Being, a hugely successful podcast where he explores a single poem. Short and unhurried; contemplative and energizing, this podcast had more than a million downloads of its first season. The second season began 28th September 2020, with new episodes released on Mondays and Fridays for twelve weeks. www.padraigotuama.com https://onbeing.org/series/poetry-unbound ​ Pádraig joined The Poetry Exchange online and is in conversation with Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and Michael Shaeffer. ​ Many thanks to Gallery Press for granting us permission to share the poem in this capacity. Do visit them for more inspiration here: www.gallerypress.com Fiona reads the gift reading of 'A Recovered Memory of Water'. ***** Cuimhne An Uisce / A Recovered Memory of Water by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, translated by Paul Muldoon Sometimes when the mermaid’s daughter is in the bathroom cleaning her teeth with a thick brush and baking soda she has the sense the room is filling with water. It starts at her feet and ankles and slides further and further up over her thighs and hips and waist. In no time it’s up to her oxters. She bends down into it to pick up handtowels and washcloths and all such things as are sodden with it. They all look like seaweed— like those long strands of kelp that used to be called ‘mermaid-hair’ or ‘foxtail.’ Just as suddenly the water recedes and in no time the room’s completely dry again. A terrible sense of stress is part and parcel of these emotions. At the end of the day she has nothing else to compare it to. She doesn’t have the vocabulary for any of it. At her weekly therapy session she has more than enough to be going on with just to describe this strange phenomenon and to express it properly to the psychiatrist. She doesn’t have the terminology or any of the points of reference or any word at all that would give the slightest suggestion as to what water might be. ‘A transparent liquid,’ she says, doing as best she can. ‘Right,’ says the therapist, ‘keep going.’ He coaxes and cajoles her towards word-making. She has another run at it. ‘A thin flow,’ she calls it, casting about gingerly in the midst of the words. ‘A shiny film. Dripping stuff. Something wet.’ From 'The Fifty Minute Mermaid', Gallery Press, 2007.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
In this episode, Rachel Eliza Griffiths talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – Remember by Joy Harjo. Rachel Eliza visited The Poetry Exchange 'long distance' in an online conversation between London and New York. She is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. We are very grateful to Rachel Eliza for allowing us to share the conversation with you, and to Joy Harjo and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. for their permission to feature 'Remember.' 'Remember' can be found in She Had Some Horses: Poems by Joy Harjo, 2008, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. www.wwnorton.co.uk/books/9780393334210-she-had-some-horses Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a multi-media artist, poet, and writer. Her literary and visual work has been widely published in journals, magazines, anthologies, and periodicals including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times, Poets & Writers, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, Best American Poetry 2020, and many others.  Griffiths is widely known for her literary portraits, fine art photography, and lyric videos. Her extensive video project, P.O.P (Poets on Poetry), an intimate series of micro-interviews, gathers nearly 100 contemporary poets in conversation, and is featured online by the Academy of American Poets. Griffiths is the author of Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books 2010) and The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press 2011). Griffiths’ third collection of poetry, Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose 2011), was selected for the 2012 Inaugural Poetry Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Her most recent full-length poetry collection is Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books 2015), which was a finalist for the 2015 Balcones Poetry Prize and the 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Award in Poetry. Her forthcoming collection of poetry and photography, Seeing the Body, will be published by W. W. Norton in June 2020. www.rachelelizagriffiths.com Remember is read by Fiona Bennett. ********* Remember by Joy Harjo Remember the sky that you were born under, know each of the star's stories. Remember the moon, know who she is. Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the strongest point of time. Remember sundown and the giving away to night. Remember your birth, how your mother struggled to give you form and breath. You are evidence of her life, and her mother's, and hers. Remember your father. He is your life, also. Remember the earth whose skin you are: red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth brown earth, we are earth. Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them, listen to them. They are alive poems. Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the origin of this universe. Remember you are all people and all people are you. Remember you are this universe and this universe is you. Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you. Remember language comes from this. Remember the dance language is, that life is. Remember. 'Remember' reproduced from She Had Some Horses: Poems by Joy Harjo (c) 2008 by Joy Harjo. Used with permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Then or Now - the episode featuring the poetry of Adrienne Rich and our collaboration with Ballet Black is no longer available, since we hope to be able to announce details soon of the full dance production! More news soon! ********* We are delighted to share a special edition of The Poetry Exchange podcast featuring the score from Ballet Black’s new piece, Then or Now, choreographed by William Tuckett, which would have had its world premiere at The Barbican, London, on March 26th. The score features poems by Adrienne Rich and the music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704), played by solo violinist Daniel Pioro. Poetry Direction is by The Poetry Exchange’s Founder and Director, Fiona Bennett and poems are voiced by Natasha Gordon, Michael Shaeffer and Hafsah Annela Bashir. It is with great thanks to the Adrienne Rich Estate and all the artists involved that we are able to share this unique collaboration between Ballet Black and The Poetry Exchange with you as a prelude to the full experience, once the ballet can be performed. Adrienne Rich is one of the greatest modern poets of our time. She was a tireless activist and ambassador for human rights and social justice. She was an active force in the Civil Rights Movement, a leading voice in the Feminist Movement and spoke out against all forms of oppression and injustice. Her exemplary approach to political activism, her scholarly and artistic integrity make her a highly relevant and vital source of inspiration for our time. She died in 2012 and her legacy is a defining force in the ongoing development of poetry. You can find out more about the life and work of Adrienne Rich through the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust here: www.adriennerich.net We are grateful to The Adrienne Rich Literary Trust and W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. for granting us permission to feature poems from Dark Fields of the Republic. Dark Fields of the Republic is published by W.W. Norton and available here: www.wwnorton.co.uk/books/9780393313987-dark-fields-of-the-republic. Many thanks to the wonderful Ballet Black and The Barbican. Find out more about their work below, and to stay updated with rescheduled ‘Then or Now’ performance dates: www.balletblack.co.uk www.barbican.org.uk The extraordinary work of violinist, Daniel Pioro can also be found here: www.danielpioro.com/ Below is ‘What Kind of Times Are These’ by Adrienne Rich - the opening poem from 'Dark Fields' of the Republic, and this episode. Photo credit: Camilla Greenwell and Ballet Black ***** What Kind of Times Are These By Adrienne Rich There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted who disappeared into those shadows. I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here, our country moving closer to its own truth and dread, its own ways of making people disappear. I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods meeting the unmarked strip of light— ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise: I already know who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear. And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these to have you listen at all, it's necessary to talk about trees.
In this episode, Laura Wade talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'Ashes of Life' by Edna St. Vincent Millay. ​ We are very grateful to Laura for allowing us to share this conversation with you. Laura visited The Poetry Exchange in London. She is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. Laura Wade is an Olivier award winning playwright and screenwriter. Her National Theatre play HOME, I’M DARLING premiered at Theatr Clwyd in 2018 before playing at the National, where it received rave reviews. HOME, I’M DARLING won the award for Best New Comedy at the 2019 Oliviers. Laura’s screenplay THE RIOT CLUB, an adaptation of her acclaimed 2010 stage play POSH, opened in cinemas on September 2014. The film is directed by Lone Scherfig and stars Max Irons, Sam Claflin and Douglas Booth. Laura has also adapted Sarah Waters’ TIPPING THE VELVET for the stage and in 2018, Laura adapted Jane Austen’s unfinished novel THE WATSONS for the stage for Chichester Festival Theatre. You can find out more about Edna St. Vincent Millay and read more of her poetry at the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/edna-st-vincent-millay Ashes of Life is read by Laura at the beginning of the conversation, with the gift reading of the poem by Fiona Bennett. ***** Ashes of Life By Edna St. Vincent Millay Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike; Eat I must, and sleep I will, — and would that night were here! But ah! — to lie awake and hear the slow hours strike! Would that it were day again! — with twilight near! Love has gone and left me and I don't know what to do; This or that or what you will is all the same to me; But all the things that I begin I leave before I'm through, — There's little use in anything as far as I can see. Love has gone and left me, — and the neighbors knock and borrow, And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse, — And to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow There's this little street and this little house.
In this episode, Sam talks about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'The Hug' by Thom Gunn. ​ Sam visited The Poetry Exchange in Manchester Central Library, as part of the celebrations of International Mother Language Day in the city. ​ Many thanks to our partners Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester Libraries and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature. ​ www2.mmu.ac.uk/poetrylibrary www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries www.manchestercityofliterature.com ​ Sam is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Sarah Butler and Alistair Snell. Sarah reads the gift reading of 'The Hug'. ***** The Hug  ​ It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined     Half of the night with our old friend         Who'd showed us in the end     To a bed I reached in one drunk stride.         Already I lay snug, And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side. I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug,         Suddenly, from behind, In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed:          Your instep to my heel,      My shoulder-blades against your chest.      It was not sex, but I could feel      The whole strength of your body set,              Or braced, to mine,          And locking me to you      As if we were still twenty-two      When our grand passion had not yet          Become familial.      My quick sleep had deleted all      Of intervening time and place.          I only knew The stay of your secure firm dry embrace. ​ ​ ​ Thom Gunn, "The Hug" from The Man with Night Sweats. Copyright © 1992 by Thom Gunn. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved
In this episode, Victoria talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost. Victoria visited The Poetry Exchange in Battersea, London in 2019. Victoria is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and Michael Shaeffer. 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' is read by Fiona Bennett. ********* Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
In this episode, Laura talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'The Fury of Overshoes' by Anne Sexton. ​ Our thanks to the Anne Sexton Estate and Sterling Lord Literistic Agency for allowing us to share the poem with you in this way. ​ www.sll.com Laura Furner is an arts producer living and working in London. A commended poet for the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award in 2012, Laura went on to edit and publish work in the University of Leeds' creative arts magazine The Scribe, and has since worked with The Poetry Society and Poet in the City. She is currently producing a new spoken word show for VAULT Festival 2020. You can follow Laura on twitter @laurahjayne Laura visited The Poetry Exchange at London Podcast Festival at Kings Place in 2019. www.kingsplace.co.uk Laura is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Andrea Witzke-Slot and Al Snell. Andrea reads the gift reading of 'The Fury of Overshoes.' ********* The Fury Of Overshoes They sit in a row outside the kindergarten, black, red, brown, all with those brass buckles. Remember when you couldn't buckle your own overshoe or tie your own overshoe or tie your own shoe or cut your own meat and the tears running down like mud because you fell off your tricycle? Remember, big fish, when you couldn't swim and simply slipped under like a stone frog? The world wasn't yours. It belonged to the big people. Under your bed sat the wolf and he made a shadow when cars passed by at night. They made you give up your nightlight and your teddy and your thumb. Oh overshoes, don't you remember me, pushing you up and down in the winter snow? Oh thumb, I want a drink, it is dark, where are the big people, when will I get there, taking giant steps all day, each day and thinking nothing of it? Reproduced by permission of SLL/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Copyright Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr. 1981.
In this episode, Prasanna talks about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'Seachange' by Kate Genevieve. ​ Thank you to Kate Genevieve for giving us permission to share her poem. Find out more about Kate and her work here: ​ Website: www.kategenevieve.com Twitter: @kategenevieve Prasanna visited The Poetry Exchange in London. He is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. ​ Michael reads the gift reading of 'Seachange'. ***** Seachange For LP Perhaps we are riding the moon’s path Along the sea edge Where things are less clear And more alive? My heart as full as the sea Follows the shore line with certainty. For here is a path drawn by desire. A route touched by your darkness, And mine. Moon-struck. Lit up by her generosity, Touched by the light of strangers Together with the old smile of wrinkled mountains And all the living beings multiplying. Something special grows in the emptiness - Not innocence returned - But wholeness, Gold-seamed. this night This Day On which so many doors fall open. Let go! The ocean ever rushes in to fill space revealed With unforced irrepressible energy. We can no more control a life's story Than we can command the animals Or hold back the tides Or ordain the fated meetings of the world. The door only opens at the right time. Instead, receive the gifts of sea-change: Take the moon-lit path along the shore And meet what's fresh returning. At one with Earth's desires Awake to everything that's growing. The mountain smiles. She knows It is more than time alone Heals shattered pieces: It is the gift of other beings. For suffering dissolves into the fullness of night, With the memory that the dark bright night Shines with love. May all have eyes to see, ears to hear, This night - As full as the sea - Beyond sense and naming.
In this episode, John talks about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'The Death by Heroin of Sid Vicious' by Paul Durcan.  ​ John visited The Poetry Exchange in London. He is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. ​ John is a highly acclaimed film, TV and Theatre Director. Find out more about John and his work here: ​ www.casarotto.co.uk/clients/john-crowley Fiona reads the gift reading of 'The Death by Heroin of Sid Vicious'. ***** The Death by Heroin of Sid Vicious ​by Paul Durcan There – but for the clutch of luck – go I.  At daybreak – in the arctic fog of a February daybreak – Shoulder-length helmets in the watchtowers of the concentration camp  Caught me out in the intersecting arcs of the swirling searchlights.  There were at least a zillion of us caught out there – Like ladybirds under a boulder – But under the microscope each of us was unique,  Unique and we broke for cover, crazily breasting  The barbed wire and some of us made it  To the forest edge, but many of us did not  Make it, although their unborn children did – Such as you whom the camp commandant branded  Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Jesus, break his fall:  There – but for the clutch of luck – go we all. ​
In this episode, Alida talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'De Ceder' / 'The Cedar' by Han G. Hoekstra. You will hear the poem in Dutch and in an English translation by Alida herself. Alida visited The Poetry Exchange at London Podcast Festival 2019 at Kings Place. Our thanks to both for hosting us so warmly and attentively. www.kingsplace.co.uk Our thanks also to Meulenhoff for granting us permission to share the poem with you. You can find 'De Ceder' in the original Dutch along with many other works by Han G. Hoekstra at dbnl.org - digitale bibliotheek vor de Nederlandse letteren: www.dbnl.org/tekst/hoek017pano01_01/hoek017pano01_01_0002.php Dr. Alida Gersie is a widely published author and world authority on therapeutic story-work, the arts therapies, the uses of the arts in health and popular education. She designed and directed Postgraduate Arts Therapies training programmes at universities in the UK and abroad. Since the 1970’s she has advised leading thinkers on the uses of story to encourage pro-environmental policy and behavioural change. Alida is editor of and contributor to Storytelling for a Greener world: Environment, Community and Story-Based Learning. Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2014. www.hawthornpress.com/authors/alida-gersie/ Alida is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Andrea Witzke-Slot and Al Snell. Al reads the gift reading of 'The Cedar'. ********* De Ceder by Han G. Hoekstra Ik heb een ceder in mijn tuin geplant. gij kunt hem zien, gij schijnt het niet te willen. Een binnenplaats, meesmuilt ge, sintels, schillen. en schimmel die een blinde muur aanrandt, er is geen boom, alleen een grauwe wand. Hij is er, zeg ik, en mijn stem gaat trillen, Ik heb een ceder in mijn tuin geplant, Gij kunt hem zien, gij schijnt het niet te willen, Ik wijs naar buiten, waar zijn ranke, prille stam in het herfstlicht staat, onaangerand, niet te benaderen voor noodlots grillen. geen macht ter wereld kan het droombeeld drillen. Ik heb been ceder in mijn tuin geplant. From 'Panopticum', Meulenhoff, 1946. The Cedar by Han G. Hoekstra translated by Alida Gersie I have planted a cedar in my garden’s soil. you too could see it, but it seems you don’t want to. A yard, you snigger, slags and rot, There’s mould that festers on the blinding wall. There is no tree, a drab divider, nothing more. It is there, I say, and my voice now trembles, You too could see it, but it seems you don’t want to. I point outside, where its slender, tender trunk stands in radiant autumn’s glow, untouched, and way beyond doom’s fickle tricks. No worldly force can erode this vision. I have planted a cedar in my garden’s soil.
In this special feature length episode, recorded live at Latitude Festival, Nadine Shah and Hannah Jane Walker talk about the poems that have been friends to them. Nadine and Hannah are in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. You can find out more about the brilliant work Nadine and Hannah create here: www.nadineshah.co.uk www.hannahjanewalker.co.uk This is our first live show episode and features work by Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Alexander, Salena Godden and WB Yeats. Hannah reads the gift reading of 'Days' by Philip Larkin. Nadine reads the gift reading of 'Pessimism is for Lightweights' by Salena Godden. Discover more about Salena's work here: www.salenagodden.co.uk and find her collection, 'Pessimism is for Lightweights' here: www.roughtrade.com/gb/salena-godde…or-lightweights You can also find 'Ars Poetica #100: I Believe' by Elizabeth Alexander in her 'American Sublime' collection: www.graywolfpress.org/books/american-sublimeand discover more about her work here: www.poets.org/poet/elizabeth-alexander We had a brilliant time as part of The Listening Post at Latitude Festival 2019 and are delighted to be sharing it with you, through The Poetry Exchange Podcast. Discover more about Latitude and dates for next year's festival here: www.latitudefestival.com ***** Days by Philip Larkin What are days for? Days are where we live. They come, they wake us Time and time over. They are to be happy in: Where can we live but days? Ah, solving that question Brings the priest and the doctor In their long coats Running over the fields. ***** Pessimism is for Lightweights By Salena Godden Think of those that marched this road before And those that will march here in years to come The road in shadow and the road in the sun The road before us and the road all done History is watching us and what will we become This road is all flags and milestones Immigrant blood and sweat and tears Build this city, built this country Made this road last all these years This road is made of protest And those not permitted to vote And those that are still fighting to speak With a boot stamping on their throat There is power and strength in optimism To have faith and to stay true to you Because if you can look in the mirror And have belief and promise you Will share wonder in living things Beauty, dreams, books and art Love your neighbour and be kind And have an open heart Then you're already winning at living You speak up, you show up and stand tall It's silence that is complicit It's apathy that hurts us all Pessimism is for lightweights There is no straight white line It's the bumps and curves and obstacles That make this time yours and mine Pessimism is for lightweights This road was never easy and straight And living is all about living alive and lively And love will conquer hate.
In this episode, Farah talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'O Captain! My Captain!' by Walt Whitman. Farah visited The Poetry Exchange in London. She is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. Fiona reads the gift reading of 'O Captain! my Captain!' Fiona also mentions 'The Brittle Sea' by Paul Henry as part of this epsiode, which is available from Seren Books: https://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/brittle-sea ***** O Captain! my Captain! O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck, You’ve fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
In this episode, Yasmin talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – ‘The Guest House' by Rumi. We’re delighted to feature ‘The Guest House’ in this episode and would like to thank the poem's Translator, Coleman Barks for granting us permission to share the poem in this way. Discover more about him and his work here: www.colemanbarks.com You can find ‘The Guest House’ in SELECTED POEMS by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks (Penguin Classics, 2004). Reproduced by permission of Coleman Barks. Yasmin visited The Poetry Exchange at Manchester Central Library, as part of the celebrations of International Mother Languages Day in the city. Many thanks to our partners Manchester Libraries, Archives Plus, The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature. www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries www.archivesplus.org/about-archives/ www.manchesterwritingschool.co.uk/ www.manchestercityofliterature.com/ Yasmin is the Founder and Editor in chief of Halcyon: a creative space aimed at empowering Muslim women. Discover more here: www.halcyonmaguk.com She is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. Fiona reads the gift reading of 'The Guest House'. ***** The Guest House This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
In this episode, poet John McAuliffe talks about the poem that has been a friend to him – 'Mathios Paskalis Among The Roses' by George Seferis. We’re delighted to feature ‘Mathios Paskalis Among The Roses’ in this episode and would like to thank Princeton University Press for granting us permission to share the poem in this way. You can find “Mathios Paskalis Among the Roses” from GEORGE SEFERIS: Collected Poems 1924-1955. Bilingual edition, translated, edited, and introduced by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Copyright © 1967, renewed 1995 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission. John visited The Poetry Exchange at Manchester Central Library, as part of the celebrations of International Mother Languages Day in the city. Many thanks to our partners Manchester Libraries, Archives Plus, The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature. https://www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries http://www.archivesplus.org/about-archives/ http://www.manchesterwritingschool.co.uk/ http://www.manchestercityofliterature.com/ You can find more about John and his poetry here: https://www.gallerypress.com/authors/m-to-n/john-mcauliffe/ John is also Professor of Creative Writing at The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/john.mcauliffe.html John is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and Al Snell. ***** 'Mathios Paskalis Among The Roses' by George Seferis I've been smoking steadily all morning if I stop the roses will embrace me they'll choke me with thorns and fallen petals they grow crookedly, each with the same rose colour they gaze, expecting to see someone go by; no one goes by. Behind the smoke of my pipe I watch them scentless on their weary stems. In the other life a woman said to me: 'You can touch this hand, and this rose is yours, it's yours, you can take it now or later, whenever you like'. I go down the steps smoking still, and the roses follow me down excited and in their manner there's something of that voice at the root of a cry, there where one starts shouting 'mother' or 'help' or the small white cries of love. It's a small white garden full of roses a few square yards descending with me as I go down the steps, without the sky; and her aunt would say to her: 'Antigone, you forgot your exercises today, at your age I never wore corsets, not in my time.' Her aunt was a pitiful creature: veins in relief, wrinkles all around her ears, a nose ready to die;  but her words were always full of prudence. One day I saw her touching Antigone's breast like a small child stealing an apple. Is it possible that I'll meet the old woman now as I go down? She said to me as I left: 'Who knows when we''ll meet again?' And then I read of her death in old newspapers of Antigone's marriage and the marriage of Antigone's daughter without the steps coming to an end or my tobacco which leaves on my lips the taste of a haunted ship with a mermaid crucified to the wheel while she was still beautiful. “Mathios Paskalis Among the Roses” from GEORGE SEFERIS: Collected Poems 1924-1955. Bilingual edition, translated, edited, and introduced by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Copyright © 1967, renewed 1995 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission.
In this episode, Hannah talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – ‘Of Mutability’ by Jo Shapcott. We’re delighted to feature ‘Of Mutability’ in this episode and would like to thank Faber & Faber for granting us permission to share the poem in this way. You can find ‘Of Mutability’ in OF MUTABILITY by Jo Shapcott (Faber & Faber, 2011). Reproduced by permission of Faber & Faber. Hannah visited The Poetry Exchange at Manchester Central Library, as part of the celebrations of International Mother Languages Day in the city. Many thanks to our partners Manchester Libraries, Archives Plus, The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature. https://www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries http://www.archivesplus.org/about-archives/ http://www.manchesterwritingschool.co.uk/ http://www.manchestercityofliterature.com/ Hannah is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. ‘Of Mutability’ Too many of the best cells in my body are itching, feeling jagged, turning raw in this spring chill. It’s two thousand and four and I don’t know a soul who doesn’t feel small among the numbers. Razor small. Look down these days to see your feet mistrust the pavement and your blood tests turn the doctor’s expression grave. Look up to catch eclipses, gold leaf, comets, angels, chandeliers, out of the corner of your eye, join them if you like, learn astrophysics, or learn folksong, human sacrifice, mortality, flying, fishing, sex without touching much. Don’t trouble, though, to head anywhere but the sky.
In this episode, Angela talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – ‘The force that through the green fuse' by Dylan Thomas. We’re delighted to feature ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ in this episode and would like to thank Weidenfeld and Nicolson for granting us permission to share the poem in this way. You can find ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ in The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: the Centenary Edition, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, copyright holder The Dylan Thomas Trust. www.discoverdylanthomas.com Angela visited The Poetry Exchange at Manchester Central Library, as part of the celebrations of International Mother Languages Day in the city. Many thanks to our partners Manchester Libraries, Archives Plus, The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature. https://www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries http://www.archivesplus.org/about-archives/ http://www.manchesterwritingschool.co.uk/ http://www.manchestercityofliterature.com/ Angela is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett. ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower' by Dylan Thomas The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever. The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks. The hand that whirls the water in the pool Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind Hauls my shroud sail. And I am dumb to tell the hanging man How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime. The lips of time leech to the fountain head; Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood Shall calm her sores. And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind How time has ticked a heaven round the stars. And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
In this episode, Mark talks about the poem that has been a friend to him – ‘Barcarole' by Pablo Neruda - translated by Robert Hass. We’re delighted to feature ‘Barcarole’ in this episode and would like to thank Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells, City Lights Books and Frederick Courtright for granting us permission to share the poem in this way. www.agenciabalcells.com www.citylights.com www.permissionscompany.com You can find ‘Barcarole’ in ‘The Essential Neruda’ - Selected Poems - edited by Mark Eisner, published by Bloodaxe Books in the UK and City Lights Books in the US. https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/the-essential-neruda-957 http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100907730 Mark is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Alison McManus. Michael Shaeffer reads the gift reading of ‘Barcarole'. ***** Barcarole If only you would touch my heart, if only you were to put your mouth to my heart, your delicate mouth, your teeth, if you were to put your tongue like a red arrow there where my dusty heart is beating, if you were to blow on my heart near the sea, weeping, it would make a dark noise, like the drowsy sound of train wheels, like the indecision of waters, like autumn in full leaf, like blood, with a noise of damp flames burning the sky, with a sound like dreams or branches or the rain, or foghorns in some dismal port, if you were to blow on my heart near the sea, like a white ghost, in the spume of the wave, in the middle of the wind, like a ghost unleashed, at the seashore, weeping. Like a long absence, like a sudden bell, the sea doles out the sound of the heart, raining, darkening at sundown, on a lonely coast: no question that night falls and its mournful blue of the flags of shipwrecks peoples itself with planets of throaty silver. And the heart sounds like a sour conch calls, oh sea, oh lament, oh molten panic, scattered in the unlucky and dishevelled waves: The sea reports sonorously on its languid shadows, its green poppies. If you existed, suddenly, on a mournful coast, surrounded by the dead day, facing into a new night, filled with waves, and if you were to blow on my cold and frightened heart, if you were to blow on the lonely blood of my heart, if you were to blow on its motion of doves in flame, its black syllables of blood would ring out, its incessant red waters would come to flood, and it would ring out, ring out with shadows, ring out like death, cry out like a tube filled with wind or weeping, like a shaken bottle spurting fear. So that's how it is, and the lightning would glint in your braids and the rain would come in through your open eyes to ready the weeping you shut up dumbly and the black wings of the sea would wheel round you, with its great talons and its rush and its cawing. Do you want to be the solitary ghost blowing, by the sea its sad instrument? If only you would call, a long sound, a bewitching whistle, a sequence of wounded waves, maybe some one would come, (someone would come,) from the peaks of the islands, from the red depths of the sea, someone would come, someone would come. Someone would come, blow fiercely, so that it sounds like a siren of some battered ship, like lamentation, like neighing in the midst of the foam and blood, like ferocious water gnashing and sounding. In the marine season its conch of shadow spirals like a shout, the seabirds ignore it and fly off, its roll call of sounds, its mournful rings rise on the shores of the lonely sea.
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Podcast Details

Created by
The Poetry Exchange
Podcast Status
Active
Started
Nov 24th, 2015
Latest Episode
Feb 24th, 2021
Release Period
Monthly
Episodes
56
Avg. Episode Length
24 minutes
Explicit
No
Language
English

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