Flood readers may be interested in this week’s Archive Hour on BBC Radio 4. Award-winning writer Lee Hall (Billy Elliot and The Pitman Painters) goes on a personal journey through a history of English poetry.
In “A Strong Song Tows Us,” Lee examines an alternative tradition where poetry is the preserve of ordinary working people – and not just the formally educated. Exploring the themes of class, art, politics and culture, he uncovers the surprising history of the Northern contribution to English poetry. Stretching back to the Dark Ages, Lee reveals English poetry’s hidden history, where Sunderland cork-cutters save Walt Whitman; shipyard workers hang out with Allen Ginsberg; indigent pitmen poets dine with Pre-Raphaelite littérateurs; and errant Geordie schoolboys commune with Ezra Pound.
The programme focuses on the unlikely meeting between a 16-year-old schoolboy named Tom Pickard and one of the great Modernists of English Literature, Basil Bunting, which resulted in the flowering of Newcastle as an international destination for the whole Beatnik generation.
Presenter/Lee Hall, Producer/Kate Rowland
(photo borrowed from the Morden Tower)