A poetry edition, with Simon Armitage, Vanessa Kisuule, Anthony Anaxagorou, Em Power, Anna Selby, Daphne Astor, talking, reading


Manage episode 281089483 series 1301220
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The pandemic is having a profound impact on the arts. But you don't need to go anywhere, involve other people or need many materials, to write or read poetry, and during the lockdown people have turned to verse. In an extended edition of Front Row devoted to poetry Samira Ahmed hears from the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, about his recent writing life - composing lyrics for Huddersfield Choral Society. Vanessa Kisuule, City Poet of Bristol, talks about her collaboration with the Old Vic and local groups, creating modern work inspired by medieval mystery plays. Em Power, three times Foyle Poet of the Year winner, reveals how poetry is a communal art. And they all read their work. Even before the lockdown there was a surge in sales of poetry books, driven by the internet. Anthony Anaxagorou and Vanessa Kisuule chart their journeys as poets via YouTube to the printed page. They discuss poetry addressing politics - Kisuule's poem on the toppling of the Colston statue went viral - and poets' engagement with the environment. Armitage launched the Laurel Prize to encourage this. In March Daphne Astor started the Hazel Press whose books about the natural world are created from it using local recycled paper, printed with vegetable inks. Anna Selby writes poems about the underwater world - while underwater. The prospect of inoculation against Covid gave rise to'vaccination nationalism'. When Edward Jenner pioneered smallpox vaccination in 1796 he was determined his discovery would benefit people around the globe. Several poets, including Robert Southey, wrote poems in his honour. Front Row has commissioned Anthony Anaxagorou to do the same for the developers of the Covid vaccine, and he reads his new poem. Presenter: Samira Ahmed Producer: Julian May

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