Poetry

The retiring Brian Bilston.

The great anti-hero of our time: Diary of a Somebody, by Brian Bilston, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Brian Bilston’s life is summed up perfectly by the incident with his neighbour’s dog. The annoying Mrs McNulty comes round…

Pam Tanowitz’s Four Quartets is a revelation

1 June 2019 9:00 am

T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets is full of music and movement. The players, such as they are, slip, slide, shake, tumble,…

Geoffrey Hill. Credit: Peter Everard Smith

Last lines on Brexit from Geoffrey Hill

25 May 2019 9:00 am

In 2012 OUP published Geoffrey Hill’s Collected Poems; they could have waited, because they’re now going to need another edition.…

Letitia at the height of her fame in 1825. H.W. Pickersgill’s original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy

The celebrated poet who’s been erased from English literature

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst describes how Letitia Elizabeth Landon went from bestselling poet to the invisible woman of English literature

How poetry turned a failing comprehensive into one of Oxford’s most oversubscribed schools

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Kate Clanchy is an extraordinary person. She is a veteran of 30 years’ teaching in difficult state schools, as well…

Finding hope in poetry, politics – and white Burgundy

27 April 2019 9:00 am

During the Middle Ages, some of the monastic halls which evolved into Oxbridge colleges allowed their younger inmates to indulge…

They tuck you up

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Philip Larkin did more harm than my parents

Northern soul: Whitby Abbey was built on the site where the date of Easter was decided

Whitby Abbey is at the heart of Britain's spiritual and literary history

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Saints, vampires and home of the first English poet: the town’s abbey is at the heart of Britain’s spiritual and literary history, says the Revd Steve Morris

Why wasn’t Poetry Please in the Radio Times’s top 30 greatest radio shows of all time?

23 February 2019 9:00 am

With the upsurge of listeners to Classic FM (now boasted to be 5.6 million listeners each week) and the imminent…

King's College Choir rehearsing for the Christmas Eve 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols'. Photo credit: Geoff Robinson Photography / REX / Shutterstock

All hail Mrs C.F. Alexander, author of 'Once in Royal David's City'

15 December 2018 9:00 am

In this 200th anniversary of the birth of Mrs C.F. Alexander, author of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, all of…

The story of the cook who spent 10 years preparing food for those on death row

1 December 2018 9:00 am

You don’t need headphones to appreciate, and catch on to, the unique selling point of radio: its immediacy, its directness,…

Credit: gradyreese

I love life – and girls – too much to act my age

17 November 2018 9:00 am

New York A little Austrian count was born to my daughter last week in Salzburg, early in the morning of…

St Francis receiving the stigmata. Credit Getty Images

Francis of Assisi’s life in poetry will stay in the mind forever

3 November 2018 9:00 am

This passionate series of engagements with the life of St Francis will stay in my mind for a very long…

Pithy and profound: the beauty of aphorisms

13 October 2018 9:00 am

It’s not surprising, perhaps, that Emil Cioran isn’t much read in England. Born in Romania, but winning a scholarship to…

A woman-child of dangerous assurance: Allison Cook as Salome in Adena Jacobs’s new production for English National Opera. [Catherine Ashmore]

A fascinating failure, but a failure nonetheless: ENO’s Salome reviewed

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Yes, Oscar Wilde never wrote it. No, Strauss didn’t intend it. In fact, the composer famously demanded the Dance of…

What a scorcher: bearing the brunt of Harold Pinter’s temper was one of life’s central experiences

The night I kissed Harold Pinter

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Craig Raine remembers Harold Pinter

Like ‘gammon’, ‘spasmodic’ was a term to put down a despised tendency

2 June 2018 9:00 am

To find out why the poetry of Ebenezer Jones was thought execrably bad, I turned to The Spectator of September…

Benjamin Zephaniah once found the leg of a man in the back of a Ford Cortina

5 May 2018 9:00 am

‘For me rhyming was normal,’ said Benjamin Zephaniah, reading from his autobiography on Radio 4. Back in the 1960s, on…

He, they, fae, fer or ze? Check your pronouns

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Jay Bernard won the Ted Hughes Award last week. I managed to hear a snippet of the winning poem on Today…

A Book of Chocolate Saints: an Indian novel like no other

24 March 2018 9:00 am

The Indian poet Jeet Thayil’s first novel, Narcopolis, charted a two-decade-long descent into the underworlds of Mumbai and addiction. One…

Trahison des clercs — a phrase that dates back all the way to 1927

3 March 2018 9:00 am

I had long associated the phrase trahison des clercs with the writer Geoffrey Wheatcroft, though I can’t put my finger…

‘Glad Day’ by William Blake

What do Walt Whitman, Jackson Pollock and Jimi Hendrix have in common?

13 January 2018 9:00 am

On 3 September 1968, Allen Ginsberg appeared on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line. Buckley exposed Ginsberg’s politics as fatuous —…

Nine reasons to be cheerful this year

6 January 2018 9:00 am

Since it’s the first week of the New Year I’m going to pretend the bad stuff isn’t happening and focus…

The genius of Ken Dodd

11 November 2017 9:00 am

It’s always odd to hear a familiar voice on a different programme, playing an alternative role. They never sound quite…

Is ‘jihadi culture’ a contradiction in terms?

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Jihadi Culture might sound like a joke title for a book, like ‘Great Belgians’ or ‘Canadian excitements’. But in this…