Wednesday, 4 March 2009

an unmordant hour

A couple of days back I listened to ‘A Strong Song Tows Us – Another history of English Poetry’ (no longer, alas, available on BBC i-pod). It was an amazingly good program, running for almost an hour (though the site says 45 minutes). Lee Hall, the writer of Billy Elliott narrates this account of the Newcastle poetry scene, anchored to the Morden Tower readings from the sixties, but diverting into a little history of poetry in the North. It suffers mildly from the usual failing of such programs to present substantial extracts from poems, but what it trades off here (and we can go and read much of the work) it gains in the sense it gives of the lively venue the Tower hosted. Among others we hear from ‘modrons’ Tom and Connie Pickard, Basil Bunting and Barry McSweeney. Theres even a case made for mass media in the era before homogenization. These writers probably wouldn’t find a space these days when everything seems to be massaged by the publicity department at Fabers. For visual images of the Morden Tower readings go to the wonderful archive of David James and scroll through for the photographs.

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