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The Verb Podcast Profile

The Verb Podcast

English, Arts, 1 seasons, 215 episodes, 6 days 21 hours 16 minutes
Radio 3's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performance
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Joyce Carol Oates

Ian McMillan presents a special extended interview with Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific and pre-eminent American writers of the 20th century. Now 85, Oates is the author of 62 novels, 47 short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism. Her latest book is the unsettling short-story collection 'Zero-Sum'.Producer: Cecile Wright
01/12/202344 minutes 11 seconds
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Colm Tóibín

Ian McMillan presents a special extended interview with acclaimed Irish novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet Colm Tóibín, who's been described as one of Ireland's finest writers. Colm Tóibín is the author of eleven novels including Brooklyn, which won the 2009 Costa novel award, and The Magician, winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize; as well as two short story collections. Three times shortlisted for the Booker Prize Tóibín was made the Laureate for Irish Fiction for 2022–2024. In 2022, he published his first collection of poems, Vinegar Hill. Producer: Cecile Wright
17/11/202344 minutes 3 seconds
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Shakespeare and the future

Ian McMillan celebrates what Shakespeare can tell future generations - about animals, sound, performance and language. With actor Paterson Joseph, grime poet and writer Debris Stevenson, Verb regular Kate Fox and Prof Todd Borlick from the University of Huddersfield.
10/11/202344 minutes 20 seconds
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New International Poetry from the Contains Strong Language Festival 2023

Ian McMillan presents some of the most exciting international poetry and poets - recorded in Leeds at the Contains Strong Language festival 2023. He's joined by Andre Bagoo from Trinidad, Ramya Jirasinghe from Sri Lanka, and by poets from the 'Language is a Queer Thing' project - an international poetry development programme from The Queer Muslim Project and the British Council - including Jay Mitra, Gayathiri Kamalakanthan, Mukahang Limbu, Rachit Sharma, Anureet Watta, and Hafsa Bukhary.
03/11/202344 minutes 5 seconds
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Ian McMillan discusses the act of looking, what it means to write about art and to translate what you see into language, and the relationship between art and life; with American poet Terrance Hayes, Christine Coulson, whose novel One Woman Show is told through museum wall labels, author and art critic Laura Cumming, and Jason Allen-Paisan whose Forward Prize winning collection, Self-Portrait As Othello, explores self-examination through the depiction of the other.
20/10/202344 minutes 5 seconds
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Zadie Smith

Ian McMillan presents a special extended interview with Zadie Smith. Her audacious first book 'White Teeth', written when she was just 24, was one of the most talked about debut novels of all time. Most of Smith's novels take place in North West London, where she grew up, and which she has described as the location of her imagination, and her heart. In her latest novel 'The Fraud', also set in the area, Smith moves into historical fiction with a story inspired by an extraordinary real life court case.
13/10/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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The Verb at Contains Strong Language Festival

Ian McMillan presents The Verb recorded in front of a live audience at the Contains Strong Language Festival in Leeds with Ian Duhig, Jacob Polley, South African writer and performance poet, Lebogang Mashile, and Kenyan poet, writer and filmmaker Ngwatilo Mawiyoo.
06/10/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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Poetry from Contains Strong Language

Ian McMillan hosts a special performance edition of The Verb recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC’s Contains Strong Language Festival in Leeds. Featuring poetry from Hannah Silva, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Malika Booker, Cecilia Knapp, Toria Garbutt and Testament.
29/09/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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Live from Contains Strong Language 2023

Live from the ‘Contains Strong Language’ Festival in Leeds, Ian McMillan introduces public poets from around the world, including Simon Armitage, Hanan Issa (the National Poet of Wales), Chris Tse (Poet Laureate of New Zealand) and Titilope Sonuga - Nigerian-Canadian poet and former Laureate of Edmonton. Ian will also hear from the winner of the 2023 Laurel Prize - the international award for nature poetry, set up to recognise and encourage the resurgence of environmental writing – one of Simon Armitage’s public projects as Poet Laureate.
22/09/202344 minutes 54 seconds
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Irish Writing

Novels by Irish writers make up a third of this year's Booker longlist for the first time in the prize's history. Ian McMillan explores the boom in Irish writing and the wave of new and experimental voices melding poetry and prose emerging from both the North and South of Ireland. With Elaine Feeney, Martina Evans, James Conor Patterson and Liam Harte, professor of Irish Literature at the University of Manchester.
15/09/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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The Verb at the Trades Club

Ian McMillan presents Radio 3's The Verb from the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, North Yorkshire. He's joined by poet Clare Shaw whose poetry extols the poetic possibilities of peat bogs and moss; Ben and David Crystal whose new book Everyday Shakespeare offers us a quotation from the bard for every day of the year; Jimmy Andrex offers a meeting place between music and poetry and singer Emily Portman and musician Rob Harbron sing the words of Irish poet Louis MacNeice
14/07/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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Confidence: Masterclass

A writing and confidence masterclass - Ian McMillan's guests Denise Mina, Kathryn Williams, Ian Humphreys and Len Pennie share their tips and experiences. How much confidence do you need to write or create out of your comfort zone? What does it take to embark on unfamiliar genres - the historical novel perhaps, starting a podcast or vlog, or writing a lyric poem? And how can the great poet, performer and humorist Ivor Cutler inspire us to write our most authentic material? Is confidence a helpful word for writers? Ian is joined by one of our most versatile novelists, Denise Mina - who explores the role of certainty in her new novel 'Three Fires', by singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams (who has pubished a novel 'The Ormering Tide' and also presents her own podcast ('Before the Light Goes Out'), by the poet and editor of 'Why I Write Poetry' Ian Humphreys, and by celebrator of Len Pennie, known as Miss Punnypennie - who invites her followers on social media to enjoy 'Scots and sarcasm'
07/07/202344 minutes 9 seconds
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New Ways of Writing

Ian McMillan explores different ways into and out of and through the things we write, and discovers new ways of thinking about language and meaning; with poet Nick Thurston who has co curated The Weight of Words, an exhibition on the poetry of sculpture and the sculpture of poetry, fiction writer Alice Jolly whose new collection of stories ‘From Far Around They Saw Us Burn’ examines how everyday interactions can change our lives in new and unpredictable ways, playwright and theatre maker Megan Barker whose novel ‘Kit’ is a long running prose poem, and poet and performer Rommi Smith reads from her new choral work Forever?, a collaborative commission with composer, Roderick Williams. Forever? is a 21st century response to the iconic hymn Amazing Grace and which seeks to redefine its power and status as a song of resilience and resistance. Forever? With text by Rommi Smith and music by composer Roderick Williams will premiere on July 22 at the IF MIlton Keynes International Festival.
30/06/202344 minutes 3 seconds
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Fathers and Time

Ian McMillan explores fathers, fathering and time with Nick Laird, Katherine Rundell and Jude Rogers. Nick Laird's new poetry collection 'Up Late' (Faber) is a powerful account of what it means to think around and through grief, time and fathering, Katherine Rundell's incisive and moving account of the life of the mortality-obsessed poet John Donne (which also takes in his fathering of twelve children) is 'Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne', and Jude Rogers's story of her love of popular music and the role her father played in igniting it is 'The Sound of Being Human' - they join Ian for this Verb on family influence and family influencers.
23/06/202343 minutes 54 seconds
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The Verb at Hay Festival: How to write a Novel

From blank page to best-seller, how do you write a successful novel? The Verb offers you a masterclass in storytelling with renowned authors Kate Mosse and Philippa Gregory, best known for The Other Boleyn Girl; and Booker prize winning novelist Douglas Stuart. How do you begin, how do you redraft and decide what to take out and what to leave in, what happens when you experiment and play with language to shapeshift and distort the form, how do you decide who is your narrator and uncover your own literary voice, and how do you know when the novel is finished? Ian McMillan takes us on a deep dive into the craft of writing a novel from the first marks you make on the paper, to the final draft that ends up on the bookshop shelf. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
16/06/202358 minutes 1 second
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The Verb at Hay Festival

Ian McMillan discusses the enduring appeal of the novel and explores how poetry and prose can collide to create a new kind of language; with Jacqueline Crooks, whose debut novel 'Fire Rush' is a tale of music and parties and love and life in late 1970s and 80s London; Liv Little, founder and former CEO of Gal-dem, a sadly now defunct online and print magazine run by women of colour, whose first book 'Rosewater' is an exploration of how it is to live a creative life in London when time and money and history all seem to conspire against you; Lemara Lindsay-Prince, the senior commissioning editor of Merky Books, the publishing house set up by rapper and grime artist Stormzy to nurture under-represented and marginalised writers; and poet, film-maker and dramatist Owen Sheers.
09/06/202344 minutes 12 seconds
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Futures Verb

Ian McMillan presents the first in a series of Verb visits to the future, asking whether we need new words, new plots and new genres to help us think about it creatively. The BBC has signed up to a climate pledge which presents an exciting opportunity for new writing (it is pledging to make sure its visions of the future aren’t simply dystopian ones, to recognise other visions, fair and balanced ones, sustainable and informed by the science ). To explore this opportunity we are first joined by the ecological philosopher and green activist Rupert Read to discuss 'thrutopianism', and by the writer and artist Alistair Gentry who has brought his flying saucer along to the studio. In the second half of this show we do a deep time dive into the work of one of America’s greatest visionary poets – Jorie Graham - and hear new poetry from her collection 'To 2040' (Carcanet) BBC Climate Change Pledge Rupert Read https://rupert
02/06/202344 minutes 15 seconds
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The Wicker Man Verb

Ritual, seduction, silliness and sacrifice - all this and more in 'The Wicker Man Verb' - marking fifty years of the iconic horror film. Ian McMillan is joined by one of our best fiction writers - Sarah Hall. Sarah shares a new commission for The Verb imagining Summerisle in 2023. David Bramwell and Eliza Skelton have been influenced by the film as writers and performers - they give The Verb an insight into how their Sing-A-Long-A-Wickerman events work. David has just published 'The Singalong-A-Wicker-Man Scrapbook' Folk musician Brian Peters explores the old songs that sit behind the soundtrack, and Verb regular - the poet and performer Kate Fox, goes on an emotional journey with Lord Summerisle, imagining how he might operate in the world of social media influencers, and endless 'wellness' marketing.
26/05/202344 minutes 23 seconds
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Monsters and the Monstrous

Ian McMillan explores the monsters that haunt our imagination, the monstrous labels that have historically been imposed upon 'the Other', and the modern day monstrosities that provoke our fears and threaten to make monsters of us all. With Prof Roger Luckhurst who specialises in classic 19th-century Gothic, literature, film, and cultural history; his new book 'Gothic' traces our fascination and representations of the Gothic through history to its place at the very heart of popular culture today, Poet Tom Juniper whose Monstrous poems are a collection from the point of view of sundry folkloric creatures, conceptual poet and artist Ira Lightman who has written a specially commissioned poem on the theme of the Monstrous, and composer Sarah Angliss whose new opera 'Giant' tells the story of the 18th century “Irish giant” Charles Byrne, a man whose corpse was stolen to order and put on public display. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
19/05/202344 minutes 2 seconds
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The Wine Verb

Wine flows through this Verb - through poems, toasts, rituals - as Ian McMillan explores the images and words that evoke what it means to drink and to be drunk, in all its complexity. Poet Ramona Herdman describes the first drink of the evening; "Peter Pan at the window, laughing, reaching his hand in" in a poem from her collection 'Glut' ( Nine Arches). Fellow poet and editor Jane Commane reads a new commission for the anthology 'Ten Poems about Wine' ( Candlestick Press) and interrogates a poem called 'Charles on Fire' by American poet James Merrill. Angie Hobbs (Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield) also joins us to explore Ancient Greek approaches to drinking, and award-winning wine critic Aleesha Hansel expands the lexicon of wine tasting, as well as considering the place of libations in culture.
12/05/202344 minutes 20 seconds
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The Sound Design Verb

Ian McMillan celebrates spectral spaces, the pulse of the body, and the power of repetition, in a Verb which showcases emerging talent - new sound designers from the Sound First scheme (a collaboration between BBC Contains Strong Language and Radio 3). Ian is joined by the songwriter, producer and sound designer Benbrick, the poet, playwright and performer Hannah Silva, and Sound First participant Noah Lawson, to explore what sound design can bring to poems, and what sounds are buried in poems themselves. The poems in this show - which the Sound First sound designers used as the basis for their work - were all commissioned for The Verb's 'Something New' series, marking 100 years of poetry on the BBC. Sound First work featured: Listening to Tennyson - poem by Rachael Boast, sound designer Noah Lawson Companion Piece - poem by Glyn Maxwell, sound designer Joe Chesterman The Truth is Never Too Old - poem by Roy McFarlane, sound designer Emily Kiely
05/05/202344 minutes 14 seconds
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The Interview Verb

This Verb could change the way you think about dreams, it might change your perception of your own doctor, or your perception of those who become extremists. That's because the writers who join Ian McMillan this week all interviewed people to enrich the texture of their work, and the concepts at the heart of it. Steven Moffat is a writer and television producer - celebrated for his writing on Doctor Who. He is joined on the programme by Dr Peter Dong (Peter runs a research programme in particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider) to explore a story called 'Going Dark' - which Steven wrote for the collection 'Collision' published by Comma Press. 'Collision' was edited by scientists Rob Appleby and Connie Potter - and brought together a number of writers who were keen to produce stories inspired by research linked to the CERN laboratory, liaising with scientists working on different projects. Polly Morland's 'A Fortunate Woman' (Picador) has been described as a 'compelling, thoughtf
28/04/202344 minutes 22 seconds
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Funny Women

Ian McMillan explores funny fiction by women with Helen Lederer, the writer and comedian (and now creator of the 'Comedy Women In Print: Book Prize'), author of Big Girl, Small Town and The Factory Girls, researcher and performer Dr Naomi Paxton who has written about the use of comedy as a political took in the Women's Suffrage movement and comedian Joanna Neary, who's Brief Encounters-inspired character Celia Jesson tries her hand at comedy. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
21/04/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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Wild Water

For our watery and wild Verb - which flows though the water of chalk streams, the ocean, a baby's bath water, and birth waters - Ian McMillan is joined by Ruth Padel, Vik Sharma, Caroline Bergvall and Will Burns. Ruth and Vik share their collaboration '24 Splashes of Denial' which combines an apprehension of loss with vast and delicate beauty, Will Burns reads a new commission for The Verb on his experience of chalk streams (a globally rare and 'gin-clear' habitat) in Buckinghamshire, and Caroline Bergvall opens a door in our watery imagination, tracing the idea of refuge in extracts from her project 'Nattsong'. Wild Poetry 'Call-out' ! From Ian McMillan: "As part of the BBC’s celebration of our wild isles, we thought we’d tap into the deep waters of the Verb listeners’ collective and individual imaginations. We want to see your poems that use the idea of wildness as their seed – they could be as short as a haiku – or as long as twenty lines – that’s the limit. We're particularly int
14/04/202344 minutes 10 seconds
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Something New

Ian McMillan is joined by poets Michael Symmons Roberts, Kate Fox, Jacob Polley and sound designer Amanda Priestley to celebrate the rich variety of new poetry commissions written for the BBC's centenary year. The show includes work from the Sound First scheme (Radio 3 and BBC Contains Strong Language working together to find the best emerging sound design talent in the UK) - three poems with evocative sound design. Also, we share the very last commission in our Something New series, by Sinéad Morrisey - called Charm. Sound First work featured: Speaker - poem by Jacob Polley, sound designer Nicky Elson Atlas - poem by Joelle Taylor, sound designer Amanda Priestley Root Your Words in the Earth - poem by Malika Booker, sound designer Louis Blatherwick
07/04/202343 minutes 56 seconds
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The Sounds between the Words

This week Testament - poet, theatre-maker and world-record-breaking human beatboxer, explores the meaning and power of the sounds we make between words, including sighing and laughing - with spoken word artist and writer Polar Bear (Steven Camden) , 'Wild' author Jay Griffiths, and poets Shirley May and John McAuliffe. Polar Bear presents a brand new commission for our series celebrating the BBC's centenary ('Something Old, Something New') which includes the sounds of his childhood home, John McAuliffe shares poems of deep sighs and his work inspired by the experiences of organ donors and recipients, Jay Griffiths lets us into the way our fellow creatures take pleasure in sound and the importance of wild sound to humans, and Shirley May explores the importance of breath in her work, and the role of the body in performance - something she teaches as artistic director of 'Young Identity' - the youth spoken word collective.
24/03/202344 minutes 11 seconds
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Spring Poetry: ambivalence and beauty

As a new season arrives, Ian McMillan and guests consider ambivalence and beauty in writing about spring. This week Ian peers into the yellow heart of the daffodil to find out what makes a great spring poem, and shares poetry by some of the most remarkable poets of our moment, as well as those inspired by the colours of crocuses past. Spring is always beautiful, but there is earthiness and grief in the language of the season too. His guests will include writers and those who work with and study the earth itself. Ian is joined by Booker Prize-winning novelist and keen gardener Penelope Lively who has contributed an essay to the new anthology 'In The Garden' (Daunt) on 'the Gardening Eye', passing the passion for growing on to her daughters, and gardening later in life. In his poem 'Here Too Spring Comes to Us with Open Arms', Caleb Femi takes us to spring on a South London Estate. In books such as the T.S Eliot prize shortlisted collection 'The Mizzy' (Picador), Paul Farley turns
17/03/202344 minutes 4 seconds
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The Secret Lives of Women

What's stopping us telling the stories of women's inner lives, or listening to them, especially once they become mothers, or are over forty? Actresses discover there are far fewer roles once they're no longer seen as young; whilst middle-aged and older women's lives are conflated, as if they are having exactly the same experiences. Ian McMillan is joined by Victoria Smith, author of 'Hags: the demonisation of middle-aged women' , by poet Patrick McGuinness (sharing poems from his forthcoming collection 'Blood Feather') by Jenny Lewis, author of 'Gilgamesh Retold' (her retellings of Mesopotamian myth reveal a female inn-keeper at the edge of the world) , and by folk legends Marry Waterson and Lisa Knapp (performing as 'Hack Poets Guild ) who share haunting songs of silenced and traduced women. We also hear our latest BBC Centenary commission - this week it's 'Deep Listening' by Emily Berry.
10/03/202344 minutes 14 seconds
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The Intimacy of Names

Secret names, original names, nicknames, invented names for characters - this Verb explores the intimacy of naming, the sound of names, and the way they can influence character. Ian is joined by the former Makar (National Poet of Scotland) Jackie Kay, with a brand new commission for The Verb - by Liz Berry, who shares poems about an ancestor called Eliza from her new collection 'Home Child' - and by Christopher Reid with explorations of childhood (and an imaginary character called Theodore Faddlefoot) all taken from his collection 'Toys/Tricks/Traps' - just published.
03/03/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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The Radio Drama Verb

Ian McMillan celebrates 100 years of BBC Radio Drama with brand new commissions - from writers Alex Riddle, Georgia Affonso. Tim Barrow, and the poet Michael Symmons Roberts. This is a homage to what Ian describes as a form which feels 'as new as cinema and as old as a whispered story in a dark cave in winter', with tales of mysterious islands and time travel, the intimacy of the optometrist's gaze, and the power of friendship. Michael Symmons Roberts's poem is a commission for our 'Something Old, Something New' series, and evokes a frozen Atlantic - its sound and its shiver.
24/02/202344 minutes 14 seconds
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Last Lines

Ian McMillan enjoys last lines in poetry, song, memoir, and novels - and his guests introduce him to different varieties of endings: the trap door, the rug-pull, the fade and many more. Stuart Maconie, writer and broadcaster, is Ian's guide to the bathetic and sometimes dramatic ends to be found in popular song - and explores an ending created by the Cornish poet Charles Causley. Caroline Bird reads a sonnet from her poetry collection 'The Air Year' and reveals the draft that helped her reach the poem and its ending, and fellow poet Sinéad Morrissey shares a work-in-progress inspired by endings: 'Seeing Red', her memoir of growing up in a Communist family in Northern Ireland. Our 'Something' New poem (marking 100 years of the BBC) is by Menna Elfyn.
17/02/202344 minutes 23 seconds
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Seductive Places

The Verb is lured this week into seductive places: poet Luke Wright presents a show full of light, cool water, shadows on stone, and the over-reliance on place-names (by lyricists). His guests are the poet Helen Mort (who shares poems of swimming and Lincolnshire from her collection 'The Illustrated Woman'), by the cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson who tries to persuade Luke that his passion for the Evelyn Waugh novel 'Brideshead Revisited' is misplaced - by Kate Fox (Verb regular and stand-up poet) who discovers seduction nirvana in an unlikely popular song, and by Anita Sethi (author of 'I Belong Here' ) who shares her love of Manchester's Oxford Road, and Manchester Museum where she is writer-in-residence. Our 'Something New' poem (celebrating 100 years of the BBC) is by Jean Sprackland, and our 'Something Old' poem is 'Sea Fever' by John Masefield. Ian McMillan presents again next week - exploring the power and pleasure of last lines.
10/02/202344 minutes 12 seconds
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Writing Childhood

What do we remember about childhood? And how do we write about it, without feeling trapped in the past? Ian McMillan talks to poet Don Paterson about music as a mnemonic tool, his youthful attraction to the art of origami, and the perils of confectionary. He talks to writer Sally Bayley about her sequence of books that capture the language fragments and stories from a childhood where facts were 'thin on the ground' - and about the part Shakespeare and his characters play in her latest book 'No Boys Play Here'. And Donovan McAbee, professor and poet, also joins Ian to explore the influence of childhood experiences on the work of Serbian-born poet Charles Simic - who became Poet Laureate of the US (writing in his fourth language), and died earlier this year. We also hear a poem from the BBC archive - Sylvia Plath's 'Purdah'.
03/02/202344 minutes 9 seconds
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The City Verb

Ian McMillan and his guests explore writing and cityscapes - asking how does architecture make us think about the writing process, and how do language and cities refresh each other – or use each other? Joining Ian are the novelist Jenny Colgan on the 'City of Invention' (which the late novelist Fay Weldon uses to describe literature in her book 'Letters to Alice: On First Reading Jane Austen'), by skateboarder and poet Olly Todd on his new collection 'Out for Air', by the writer and novelist Reinier de Graaf, who explores the corporate language of architecture (and the need for all new buildings to be 'officially amazing'), and the poet Geraldine Monk, who shares a brand new commission - part of our BBC centenary series 'Something Old, Something New'.
27/01/202344 minutes 8 seconds
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The Verb TS Eliot Prize

On The Verb this week join Ian McMillan for a celebration of remarkable poets and poetry as he presents readings from all the collections shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. The prize is awarded annually by the T.S. Eliot Foundation for the best collection of the year and the winner receives £25,000. Anthony Joseph was declared this year's winner by the judges for his 'luminous' collection Sonnets for Albert. Alongside readings from the poets themselves, Ian reflects how their work reverberates with the here and now, refreshing the language and giving us maps and signposts for these turbulent times. The shortlisted poets featured along with Anthony Joseph are Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Philip Gross, Denise Saul, Yomi Sode, Mark Pajak, Jemma Borg, James Conor Patterson, Zaffar Kunial and Fiona Benson. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
23/01/202344 minutes 13 seconds
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This week on the Verb we're taking in the air, and letting it out again as we explore how breath shapes and moulds the poetic line and stanza, how it can breathe life into a story and how breathing itself can be a kind of narrative. Ian McMillan is joined by the poet Stephen Watts whose poems pulse and flow with the rhythm of breath, novelist Emma Carroll whose book The Tale of Truthwater Lake breathes life into the future and revives the past, James Nestor a journalist and free diver who teaches us how to survive with and without breathing and poet Daisy Lafarge whose collection Life Without Air was shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize.
13/01/202344 minutes 12 seconds
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The Verb with Hilary Mantel

This edition of The Verb is another chance to hear an extended interview with the prize winning novelist Hilary Mantel who died last year. The programme looks at her life in writing, from her struggle to publish the first book she ever wrote, the historical epic A Place of Greater Safety to the phenomenal success of her Thomas Cromwell books Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both of which won the Booker Prize. We learn about the themes which run through all her work: the pursuit of power, fame and how it changes us, the collective versus the individual voice, and ghosts (which for Mantel are choices not made, both in her life and in her writing). She sheds light on her relationship with Thomas Cromwell, how she avoids pastiche when writing historical dialogue, and explains how working on the RSC adaptations of her Thomas Cromwell books influenced the final book in the trilogy, ‘The Mirror and The Light’ which at the time of recording was yet to be published. Hilary Mantel published
06/01/202344 minutes 8 seconds
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The Festive Verb

Join Ian McMillan for a festive recording of The Verb, in which we'll encounter a parade of imaginary creatures conjured through poems and songs and stories brought by his guests. The poet and performer John Hegley has written us a brand new poem, YA superstar Melvin Burgess tells us about his debut adult novel ‘Loki’, poet and playwright Testament will be performing a piece from his show ‘Blake Remixed’ fusing hip-hop with the iconic poetry of William Blake and folk singer Bella Hardy who'll be talking about her return to traditional ballads and of course singing a song or two. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
16/12/202243 minutes 59 seconds
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Ghost Writers

Ian McMillan explores the ghostly presences and phantoms of predecessors, literary or not, which hover in and around all writing. In poetry and stories how do we seek through the spectres of time and memory to conjure invocations of people lost to us, and to understand the importance of human connections through time and space? With David Constantine, Denise Riley, Andrew Taylor and Clare Shaw. David Constantine's new book Rivers of the Unspoilt World interweaves fictional characters and events with the real to create new ways of seeing and connecting our past, present and possible futures. Denise Riley's latest collection Lurex is a meditation on the timelessness of time, in which the past is never really past but is both then and now, haunting, our memories and our futures. Andrew Taylor's collection Northangerland conjures the ghost of Bramwell Bronte to rewrite his poetry for the modern reader. Clare Shaw's Towards A General Theory of Love seeks to summon the Spirit of those we
09/12/202244 minutes 14 seconds
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Poetry Book Club with Douglas Dunn

The Verb this week is another chance to hear Ian McMillan's interview with the great Scottish poet Douglas Dunn, in front of our Poetry Book Club audience. Douglas Dunn is the author of over ten poetry collections. He published his debut in 1969, whilst working in the Brynmor Jones Library at Hull under Philip Larkin. The book, Terry Street, won the Somerset Maugham Award. Since then Douglas has continued to write poems that shine a light on the human condition - on our foibles, our desires, our fragility. His 2019 collection, The Noise of a Fly, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Among other awards he received the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1985 for Elegies, a moving account of his wife's early death from cancer. Dunn was awarded the OBE in 2003 and is an Honorary Professor at St Andrews. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
02/12/202243 minutes 57 seconds
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First Drafts

This week we examine the sometimes painful process of drafting and redrafting. We're joined by Denise Mina, who appeared on the Verb in 2019 to share her feelings towards a book she had only just started. What became of it? Listen to find out. Toby Litt's current novel is 'A Writer's Diary'. Initially published in the form of daily emails to subscribers, the lines between fact and fiction appear to blur with every email. How is a work like this drafted? Paul Tran says redrafting of his poems is also a redrafting and a rebuilding of the self in the wake of trauma or extremity. For Singer-songwriter and folk historian Polly Paulusma it is through the process of drafting that ideas and images that first appear buried bubble up to the surface, And our 'Something New' poem this week comes from Costa Award-winning poet Hannah Lowe Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
25/11/202244 minutes 12 seconds
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On The Verb this week we're raising the curtain on playwriting. Ian McMillan is joined by four playwrights; Winsome Pinnock whose recent work includes The Principles of Cartography and Rockets and Blue Lights; by Liz Lochhead, whose writing ranges widely over playwriting and poetry and who has written for the National Theatre of Scotland, Steve Waters who works for stage, radio and screen and Keisha Thompson Director and CEO of Contact Theatre in Manchester. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
18/11/202244 minutes 3 seconds
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BBC Centenary - Radio and Poetry

Celebrate 100 years of poetry on the BBC with Ian McMillan's cabaret of the word. The Verb presents brand new poetry especially commissioned for the centenary, and explores the corporation's relationship with poetry - including highlights from the archive. With poets Paul Farley and Hannah Silva and the Director of The Poetry Society Judith Palmer.
11/11/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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The Verb Narrators

How or what is the voice of the narrator, and what happens in a story when the narrator proves to be unreliable? Booker Prize winner Damon Glagut's novel The Promise toys with the idea of the narrator as different people at different times disorientating the reader and exposing the duplicity of the novel, poet Daniel's latest collection Single Window explores the 'I' in the poem and the poet, Sheen Patel's debut novel I Am A Fan is about an obsessed young woman and the unreliability of the internet and Prof. Mike Sharples is the author of Story Machines: How Computers Have Become Creative Writers. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
04/11/202244 minutes 14 seconds
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Verbatim Speech

This week The Verb is doing some straight talking and celebrating verbatim and everyday speech with the novelist Will Ashon whose book The Passengers is a collection of voices telling their own stories; the performance artist Scottee whose new podcast After The Tone listens to so-called ordinary people in all their extraordinary glory; the poet Anna Robinson whose work always listens hard to the way people sound; and Verb regular the poet and performer Kate Fox brings some drama to how we speak. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
28/10/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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Liberation Narratives

When we think of Liberation Narratives we perhaps most often mean slave or revolution narratives but they can be profoundly personal expressions of freedom as well as stories of huge geopolitical or historical changes. Ian McMillan considers Liberation Narratives with American poet Carl Philips, poet, performer and singer Rommi Smith, poet Yomi Sode and folk singer-songwriter and activist Grace Petrie. Carl Philips' latest book 'Then the War', a collection of new and selected poems is an exploration of self discovery and the revolutionary power of tenderness and human connection. During a stint as poet in residence at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home in Grasmere, Rommi Smith sought new escapes in his sonnets. Yomi Sode's debut collection 'Manorism' is an examination of the lives of Black British men and boys and the liberating impact of having a voice. Grace Petrie's politically charged protest music challenges us to envisage and demand a kinder world than the one we live in.
21/10/202244 minutes 11 seconds
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Benjamin Zephaniah

The Verb this week is a special extended conversation with the poet, performer, playwright and activist Benjamin Zephaniah. Benjamin's been publishing and performing his work for adults and children since the early 1980s, and recently committed his life, so far, to print in his autobiography The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah. The programme was recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's Contains Strong Language Festival in Benjamin's home city of Birmingham. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
14/10/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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The Verb this week is abundant with the language of Autumn and fruitfulness as Ian Mcmillan and his guests explore writing about the season and harvest festivals; past, present and future. Rebecca May Johnson is the author of 'Small Fires: An Epic in the Kitchen'. In this playful memoir she rewrites the kitchen as a vital source of knowledge and revelation. A novelist and nature writer, everything Melissa Harrison writes is attuned to the seasons and for Melissa, autumn is a particularly poignant time of year when life and death rub up against each other. Amy Jeffs explores the stories and myths that make up Britain in her books 'Wild: Tales from Early Medieval Britain' and 'Storyland', here she explains how harvest traditions have fed into our folk tales. And our 'Something New' poem, part of our series celebrating 100 years of the relationship between the BBC and poetry comes this week from Joelle Taylor Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
07/10/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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40 years of Apples and Snakes

This week on The Verb we're celebrating the birthday of Apples and Snakes, who've been pioneering spoken word poetry for 40 years. Ian McMillan is joined onstage at the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival in Birmingham by six poets who've been involved with Apples and Snakes over the years; Casey Bailey, the current Poet Laureate of Birmingham, award-winning poet Kayo Chingonyi, Roy McFarlane, Muneera Pilgrim and Malika Booker, co-founder of the writer's collective Malika's Kitchen. Presented by Ian McMillan Producer Cecile Wright
30/09/202244 minutes 17 seconds
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Birmingham Contains Strong Language

Recorded at the BBC's Contains Strong Language Festival in Birmingham, Ian showcases verse that has arisen from two collaborative projects: Across Borders and Language Is a Queer Thing. Dzifa Benson's explores the phenomenon of the Ghanaian drinking name which is part of her Ewe heritage, and we ask our poets to come up with their own. Alvin Pang gives us his insight into a location which was formative in the development of poetry in Singapore in the poem Boat Quay, and Fred D'Aguiar offers us two readings as well as insights into his memoir, Year of Plagues. Amani Saeed and Megha Harish discuss the challenges and intricacies of collaboration, and Nick Makoha considers the march of history with one of the poems that came from his collaboration - Primer. Across Borders and Language Is a Queer Thing were developed in partnership with the Verve Poetry Festival, the British Council and the Queer Muslim Project.
23/09/202243 minutes 50 seconds
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From Contains Strong Language

The first Verb of a new season, recorded in front of an audience at the Contains Strong Language Festival of poetry and performance at the Hippodrome in Birmingham. We have brand new work from the legendary dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and we're also joined by two of this year's CSL poets; Romalyn Ante, author of 'Anti-Emetic for Homesickness', and Isabelle Baafi, who won a Somerset Maugham award for her debut pamplet Ripe. Linda France is one of the shortlisted poets for this year's Laurel Prize for the best collection of nature or environmental poetry, and our 'Something New' comes from Luke Kennard. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
16/09/202244 minutes 17 seconds
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Games Day

It's the last Verb before we break up for the summer term, so we're having an end of term games day. Games Writer Rhianna Pratchett has worked across many games in a 20 year career. Some are big studio titles like Tomb Raider, where she was brought in to update the character of Lara Croft for a new generation, and others are indie games like Sketchbook Games’ ‘The Lost Words’, a game that Rhianna was involved in from early development and which was inspired by her own personal experiences of grief. Philip Terry, poet and editor of 'The Penguin Book of Oulipo' lets us into the world of avant-garde language games. It’s Oulipo vs the Surrealists…get your Exquisite Corpse at the ready. And verb regular Ira Lightman embraces the chaos and creates poetry with the roll of a dice. He’s built our very own Verb board game, Snakes and Ladders and Words! We also look ahead to the 'Sound of Gaming' Prom, the very first prom to centre on Computer games music with Sound of Gaming presenter Louise
15/07/202243 minutes 54 seconds
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Michael Longley

Michael Longley is one of Northern Ireland's foremost contemporary poets. His debut collection, 'No Continuing City', was published to acclaim in 1969 and since then he has published many more collections of verse, including 'Gorse Fires', which won the Whitbread Prize, and 'The Weather in Japan', which won the T.S. Eliot prize and the Hawthornden Prize. His major themes are war, nature and love. Perhaps his best-known poem is 'Ceasefire', which, like many of his poems, was inspired by The Iliad and was first published in the Irish Times in 1994 thr week the ceasefire was announced. Michael lives in Belfast, but spends much of his time in Carrigskeewaun, which provides the backdrop for many of his nature poems. But for Michael, the love poem is the most important. If poetry is a wheel, as he says, 'The hub of the wheel is love.' Ian visits Michael at home in Belfast for a conversation that ranges over a career in poetry that spans over 50 years. Michael published 'The Candlelight Mas
08/07/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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Old Age

Ian McMillan explores the language, poetry and perceptions of old age with Fleur Adcock who has been writing poetry for seven decades, comedian Pope Lonergan who has written a memoir of his ten years working in a care home, and psychotherapist Jane Campbell who at the age of 80 is publishing her debut collection of short stories this month. And in our Something Old Something New series celebrating 100 years of poetry on the BBC we hear an archive poem from Michael Longley, and a new commission from Rachael Boast, inspired by hearing an 1890 recording of Tennyson reading The Charge of the Light Brigade. Producer: Ruth Thomson
01/07/202244 minutes 3 seconds
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Man Talk

Ian McMillan explores the language and complexities of male friendship with poet Michael Pederson whose book Boy Friends is 'a paean to all the gorgeous male friendships that have transformed his life', comedian Max Dickins who proposed to his girlfriend then realised he had no-one to be his best man, and film expert Adam Scovell who explores on-screen relationships from the buddy movie to the bromance. And poet Daljit Nagra reads his specially commissioned work Air for our Something Old Something New feature, celebrating 100 years of poetry on the BBC. Producer: Ruth Thomson
24/06/202243 minutes 53 seconds
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Music and Words

Adelle Stripe's Ten Thousand Apologies: Fat White Family and the Miracle of Failure charts the gripping chaos and self-sabotage of a classic " drug band with a rock problem". She shares something in common with all our guests this week, who all stand at the crossroads of words and music. Her book describes a band who while plumbing the depths of personal behaviour and let's be honest - personal hygiene - maintain a strangely pure artistic vision. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon has also been trying to bottle the lightning of musical creativity on the page. He's edited and annotated a comprehensive collection of Sir Paul McCartney's lyrics. Paul explains how to look anew at songs we know so well and considers a talent that the best songwriters and poets often share: mimicry. Malika Booker reads a specially commissioned poem in our Something Old, Something New section, taking as her inspiration a line from The Verb Manifesto. From the archive, we hear Tony Harrison's Them an
17/06/202243 minutes 50 seconds
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The Verb at Hay

In the second of two programmes recorded in front of an audience at this year's Hay Festival, Ian McMillan is joined by Jennifer Egan, Gurnaik Johal and Allie Esiri. Jennifer Egan won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for her novel 'A Visit from the Goon Squad', she has just published a companion novel, 'The Candy House'. Gurnaik Johal's debut short story collection is 'We Move', a group of tales that chart multiple generations of immigrants in West London. Allie Esiri is an award-winning anthologist and curator and host of live poetry events. She has edited the best-selling poetry anthologies Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year, A Poem for Every Day of the Year and A Poem for Every Night of the Year. Our 'Something Old, Something New' commission is from Liz Berry, author of Black Country and The Republic of Motherhood. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
10/06/202244 minutes 14 seconds
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The Verb at Hay

Ian McMillan is always at home in front of a crowd, and in this programme, recorded at Hay Festival, he is joined by some of our most exciting writers, performers and poets to explore the idea of homeliness - literal or metaphorical and to ask if writing can be a kind of home. His guests are: the poet Lemn Sissay, whose latest book, for children, is a celebration of curiosity and belonging; by Monica Ali, who casts her eye across family matters in her new novel 'Love Marriage'; by Daniel Morden - a consummate storyteller and performer, acquainted with all the myths of belonging; and by Tishani Doshi, whose poetry and prose is alert to the possibilities of a home - in the poem or in the body. Also in the programme - a brand new poetry commission by Pascale Petit, winner of the inaugural Laurel Prize for nature poetry - written especially for the BBC's centenary, part of our 'Something Old, Something New' series, and you can also hear a poem from the archive by Gwyneth Lewis - former
03/06/202244 minutes 16 seconds
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The Queen's Library, Windsor Castle

Presented by Ian McMillan, The Verb, Radio 3’s showcase for the best in new poetry, writing and performance, hosts a special programme recorded in The Queen’s Library at Windsor Castle. The Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will perform a new work for the occasion, and we’ll explore rare poetic gems from the collection – annotated editions gifted to the library by his Laureate predecessors Wordsworth and Tennyson. Ian will discuss the collection with the Royal Librarian, Stella Panayotova We are also joined by Grace Nichols, recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2021 and the Young People's Laureate for London, Theresa Lola, linking verse past and present in an intimate setting with an astonishing history. Produced by Kevin Core and Jessica Treen
27/05/202244 minutes 14 seconds
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This week Ian McMillan and his guests write to uncover previously hidden worlds and consider how to use language to hide in plain sight... Mick Herron is the author of the 'Slough House; series of spy thrillers about a group of discarded and overlooked M15 agents. The first book in the series, Slow Horses has been adapted for TV starring Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb, and he has just published the eighth instalment, Bad Actors. Kayo Chingonyi discusses the Black British poetry anthology he has edited; More Fiya, a sequel to the seminal 1998 collection The Fire People, edited by Lemn Sissay. Kayo Chingonyi is a poetry editor at Bloomsbury. He won the Dylan Thomas prize for his debut poetry collection Kumukanda, and his most recent collection A Blood Condition was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Costa Poetry Award. Hannah Lowe won the Costa Book Award for her poetry collection 'The Kids'. In her chapbook Old Friends, Hannah walks th
20/05/202244 minutes 15 seconds
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Books and Pens

Ian McMillan's guests Emma Smith, Naush Sabah and Gerry Cambridge celebrate books and pens - and we hear a new BBC centenary commission from Imtiaz Dharker. Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford, and her new book is called 'Portable Magic - A History of Books and their Readers'. Emma explains why books are like bodies, and explores the power of the inscription. Gerry Cambridge is a poet and essayist, editor of The Dark Horse transatlantic journal - and a lover of fountain pens. Naush Sabah is a poet, with a collection called 'Litanies' now out with Guillemot Press, and runs Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal; Naush also loves fountain pens. For The Verb they agreed to create a poem together - exploring the particular resonance, and experience of writing in ink. At the end of the programme you can hear a brand new poetry commission from Imtiaz Dharker, one of our most celebrated poets, and an acclaimed artist and film-maker; part of our series m
13/05/202247 minutes 10 seconds
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Margaret Atwood - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan welcomes the Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood, who joins The Verb from wild woods north of Toronto, to share poems from her new collection ‘Dearly’ and to explore the preoccupations that link her poetry and fiction: what it means to have a body, our increasingly precarious relationship with the natural world, the Canadian sensibility, and the way we are caught in time like ‘mice in molasses’. Margaret reads from her iconic novel ‘The Handmaid's Tale’ and takes us back through the layers of her own past, to a time in her early childhood when she started to tell her own stories, and write plays – about strange alien creatures, and a giant that gets squashed by the moon.
06/05/202244 minutes 19 seconds
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The Sea

Ian talks to Maggie Gee about her new novel The Red Children. It's a fascinating take on migration which mixes humour with magic - and she tells us why she sought to avoid simplistic villains in a story that so often makes the headlines. Carmen Marcus tells us about her poetry collection and podcast the Catch and its distinctly personal link to the sea. She explains how the discovery of a letter from her father set her on a course to understand the changing fishing communities of her childhood home Redcar. And a maritime classic - we assess a defining keystone of the American imagination, that unforgettable story of a denizen of the deep pitted against man's hubris - Free Willy. Whoops - Moby Dick, sorry. Professor Hester Blum of Penn State University is editing the new edition and she explains why it's weighty reputation can undermine its extraordinary playfulness. And comedy writer Madeleine Brettingham stands at the shoreline and considers if a house at the beach will automatica
29/04/202244 minutes 6 seconds
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Ancient and Modern

Ian McMillan is joined by poet Lucy Mercer whose latest collection is inspired by 16th-century emblems, behavioural scientist Nick Chater whose book The Language Game explores the development of language and conversation, debut novelist Tice Cin whose book Keeping the House tells the story of a Turkish Cypriot family in north London, and poet Glyn Maxwell with a newly commissioned work.
22/04/202243 minutes 27 seconds
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Ian McMillan's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performance
15/04/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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The Twentieth Anniversary Verb

In 2002 a new radio programme was born. It was almost called 'Saturday Speakeasy', but Radio 3 finally settled on 'The Verb'. This is our twentieth anniversary programme, so as you might expect it's packed with energetic language-play, poetry, and prose, and with five new commissions, as we reflect on the ways in which writing and performance have changed in the last two decades, and ask what might happen over the next twenty years. Ian's guests are poets Kate Fox, Malika Booker, Ira Lightman, Luke Wright, Cia Mangat (who was born the same year as The Verb), and novelist Toby Litt. We also present a piece of mystery audio which stars the award-winning poet Joelle Taylor. As if that's not enough for one week, in this episode we launch a brand new recurring feature called 'Something Old, Something New' celebrating the BBC's role in commissioning and broadcasting poetry over the last hundred years. In each programme over the next year we'll be sharing a remarkable poem from the arc
08/04/202244 minutes 5 seconds
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Taking Risks

The Verb, Ian McMillan's weekly foray into writing and language examines the appeal of risk and chance. Risk is inherent to writing every time you put words on paper; whether it's risk in the use of form, or language, or subject matter. It's the risk a writer takes when they expose their own lives or the lives of others in their writing. Booker prize winning author DBC Pierre talks about his latest book 'Big Snake, Little Snake: An Inquiry into Gambling and Life'; Hannah Silva on the unpredictability of collaborating with an A-I algorithm for her latest play; poet and novelist Helen Mort, who's always been drawn to the thrill and risk of rock climbing, examines how the world views women who aren't afraid to take risks in her new book 'A Line Above the Sky' and poet Will Harris examines the role of the chance encounter in literature. Producer: Cecile Wright
01/04/202243 minutes 40 seconds
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After Dark Festival: The Chance to Change

The Equinox is a time of change, and at a special recording for Radio 3's After Dark Festival, The Verb's master of metamorphosis Ian McMillan presents a plethora of poets from Sage Gateshead. Our contribution to this major new live music festival, it's a feast of contemporary, classical and experimental music too and you can find out more searching "After Dark Festival" in BBC Sounds. We'll have live performances from Mike Garry bringing a flavour of Manchester to the North East and we'll also be joined by local lad Rowan McCabe - who described his "door-to-door" poetry service as "like the Avon lady but with rhymes." And we'll have a performance from the ever eclectic Kate Fox as well as John Challis and Tahmina Ali. If you like your poetry live and loud The Verb at the After Dark Festival has got you covered. Presented by Ian McMillan Produced by Kevin Core
25/03/202243 minutes 53 seconds
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Mothers and Daughters

The special bond of the mother and daughter - and its complexities - are up for discussion this week. Radio 3's regular writing programme hears about the concept of being "parentified" from Warsan Shire in her new collection examining the experience of displacement endured by her family. And Ruth Padel joins us to talk about Daughters of the Labyrinth, a novel which sees central character Ri investigate a secret history. Ruth also takes us through the Cretan performance poem the Mantinades, and even gives us a rendition. Think beautiful, ancient Cretan rap battle... And Hollie McNish reads us her poem Sweet Separation about the pangs felt when a daughter begins the process of developing her independence. Hollie discusses the somehow inadequate terminology of motherhood and how we consider, or rather reject, the postpartum female body. And following the death of beloved children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes, Lissa Evans describes an artist with a unique ability to capt
11/03/202244 minutes 8 seconds
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On The Verb this week Ian McMillan is up for a fight. We're delving into the world of the adversary. He'll be talking to Man Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James about Moon Witch, Spider King the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy, asking why the sequel explores the psychology of a witch - a character more generally associated with evil deeds than inner motivations. Hannah Lowe, fresh from a Costa Book of the Year win for her collection The Kids, will be exploring the adversarial side of the classroom, and unveils a special commission for The Verb. Unbuckled takes us into the world of an adversarial romantic relationship - with sad echoes of the Cinderella story. And when it comes to the villain of the piece - how can you top Satan himself? The name means "adversary" in Hebrew. So we're about get Satanic with Joe Moshenska. He's published a new book, Making Darkness Light, The Lives and Times of John Milton. He'll be explaining how the poet's compelling, smooth-talking crea
04/03/202244 minutes 3 seconds
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Ian McMillan goes to the extremes this week to explore writing from the edges of time and place with Shetland based poet Jen Hadfield, John Henry Falle aka The Story Beast, Penelope Shuttle who's latest poetry collection explores Lyonesse, a lost and mythical land that once formed the land's end of Cornwall and Jon Ransom who's debut novel is a visceral and poetic story set in the wide expanses of Norfolk.
25/02/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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Writing Travel

The Verb, Ian McMillan's regular foray into the world of language and literature, explores how travel writing, poetry and translation can ferry the reader across language, culture and time with Colm Tóibín on his first poetry collection Vinegar Hill; travel writer Sara Wheeler; Nandini Das, whose special interest is cross-cultural encounters and poet and translator Peter Robinson.
18/02/202244 minutes 10 seconds
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This week on The Verb, Ian McMillan and his guests are searching their hearts to explore writing about couples and relationships and the secrets its language might reveal. With Tessa Hadley on her new novel 'Free Love', poet Rommi Smith on writing the stories of people and places across time, inspired by images found in an overlooked photo archive, comedian Isy Suttie and Alex Hyde, whose debut novel follows the overlapping lives of two women called Violet.
11/02/202244 minutes 14 seconds
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What Kind of Times Are These?

‘What Kind of Times Are These?’ is the title of a poem by the brilliant American poet Adrienne Rich whose work covered many turbulent years. What kind of times indeed? Ian McMillan is asking his guests this week to provide their poetic answer to this question. With specially commissioned work from both the winner of this year's TS Eliot poetry prize, Joelle Taylor, and the writer, actor and Twitter Queen Miranda Keeling. Kiri Pritchard-McLean brings her comedic response to our question and award winning poet Emily Berry talks about her new collection Unexhausted Time which re-shapes and re-moulds our fragmented and fractured age.
28/01/202244 minutes 10 seconds
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Once More from the Top

Poet Fiona Sampson, conductor Alice Farnham, and broadcaster Tom Service join Ian McMillan to explore the maths, metaphors and musical terms that make up the language of conducting. Plus comedy writer Jack Bernhardt takes a sideways look at Hollywood's take on the tortured genius.
21/01/202244 minutes 5 seconds
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TS Eliot Prize Verb

Ian McMillan presents poets reading from all the collections shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, awarded by the T.S. Eliot Foundation for the best collection of the past year, and gives his take on the year in poetry. This is a special edition of the show recorded at the annual prize reading at the Royal Festival Hall in London (hosted by Ian) a day before the announcement of the winner - Joelle Taylor. Ian celebrates the impact and achievement of Joelle's collection 'C+nto' and of the other shortlisted collections. Poets featured: Jack Underwood Hannah Lowe Daniel Sluman Kevin Young Victoria Kennefick Ruth Padel reading the work of Selima Hill Raymond Antrobus Kayo Chingonyi Michael Symmons Roberts Joelle Taylor
14/01/202244 minutes 19 seconds
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Mermaids and Other Mysterious Sea Creatures

Ian McMillan explores the language and imagery of sea myths and folklore from Mermaids and Selkies to Shapeshifters and other mysterious sea creatures, both real and imagined. Ian's guests include the poet Steve Ely whose book The European Eel is an epic poetic odyssey following the imagined journey of a single eel from the Sargasso Sea to the rivers of Europe, and back to its birthplace, to mate and die, Robin Robertson whose new collection Grimoire is a series of retellings and imaginings of Scottish folktales that are often brutal, but with a strange beauty, the film maker Alastair Cole who takes us into the Gaelic language and its stories of the tide and waves, and Imogen Hermes Gowar whose novel The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, set in 18th-century London, explores the destructive sexual power of the mermaid, combining myth and legend with the harsh realities of the past. Producer: Cecile Wright
07/01/202244 minutes 13 seconds
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The Christmas Dinner Verb

Ian McMillan's guests, John Hegley, Carol Ann Duffy, Kathryn Williams, and Jay Rayner join our virtual audience in a literary Christmas dinner - revelling in the poetry, prose and linguistic satisfaction of Christmas food, in lyrics, recipes and in poetry. John Hegley gives us the taste of a French Christmas and of thick skinned roast potatoes, Kathryn Williams and Carol Ann Duffy present brand new Christmas songs from their new album 'Midnight Chorus', Jay Rayner gives us Yule commandments (including the advice that gravy solves everything, and more controversially 'don't serve Christmas pudding'). Ian McMillan channels the New York poet Frank O'Hara to write a special Christmas poem (featuring tangerines and the mystic Julian of Norwich). As usual, Radio 3’s cabaret of the word is stuffed full of language play. Come and warm your hands at The Verb’s fire – the words are sparkling!
17/12/202144 minutes 33 seconds
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The Space Verb

Ian McMillan explores space in language and writing. Space can be explicit or implied through the space between words, between lines, at the margins of a page, or with pauses and gaps and silence. Ian's guests include the poet Raymond Antrobus whose new collection All the Names Given explores different kinds of space: physical, philosophical and cultural; the architectural critic, Jonathan Glancey, who understands more than most people how human beings relate to space; the poet and Britain’s first professor of Radio, Sean Street who celebrates the work of that great explorer of the radio space Piers Plowright, and we meet Ai-Da, an Artificial Intelligence robot, who is writing poetry in response to Dante's The Divine Comedy. Lucy Seal who is curating this remarkable refashioning of Dante's poem explains how AI technologies might offer both a vision of heaven and hell through that space in between, Purgatory.
10/12/202144 minutes 18 seconds
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This week on The Verb we're thinking about the language of repair. Ian McMillan and guests discuss poetry's ability to heal, putting literary puzzles back together again, finding what was once lost, and the often impenetrable vocabularies of 'getting stuff fixed'. Ian is joined by Chris McCabe, poet and National Poetry Librarian. During lockdown the Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library ran the 'lost quotes' service, reuniting remembered fragments of poems with the rest of the text. His latest book is 'Buried Garden', in which he searches for the lost poets of Stoke Newington's Abney Park Cemetery, hoping to revive their forgotten words. Mona Arshi has just published 'Somebody Loves You', a poetic novel about a young girl who chooses silence as a protective mechanism when everything around her feels fragile. The poet William Letford used to be a roofer, and he's written a brand new poem especially for The Verb about returning to his old profession to help out family. And Kate F
03/12/202144 minutes 13 seconds
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The Everyday Verb

Ian McMillan explores diaries and writing inspired by day-to-day life with Michael Rosen, whose book 'Many Different Kinds of Love' recounts his experiences in hospital with coronavirus and features extracts from the diaries of his nurses, doctors and wife, Lauren Elkin, whose book 'No. 91/92: notes on a Parisian commute' consists entirely of notes made in her smartphone, and Christopher Green, whose immersive digital project The Home evokes day-to-day life in care homes in the UK and Japan. Plus poet Suna Afshan on her translations for the Tape Letters project - uncovering the Pothwari audio messages sent home on cassette by Pakistanis who migrated and settled in the UK in the 60s and 70s. Producer: Ruth Thomson
26/11/202143 minutes 54 seconds
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The Pretentious Verb

Ian McMillan explores and delights in pretentiousness - in language and in writers. What do we mean when we say a piece of writing or a performer is pretentious? Ian's guests include the poet Luke Wright who shares a tour de force poem in defence of pretentiousness and pretentious things (eg children called 'Hopscotch and Entwhistle', 'carpaccio of stoat' smeared across a brick, 'tweedy too-short trousers' ). Also on the programme, the spoken word poet Jenny Lindsay delves deep into the art of the humblebrag (the pretence of self-deprecation, most frequently spotted on social media ) with a brand new poem. Angie Hobbs, (Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield) takes us back to Ancient Greece to talk about pretentious sandal-wearing on the part of great philosophers' acolytes - and she explains how Plato, the founding father of Western philosophy shows his teacher Socrates dealing with pretentious orators. And finally writer and critic Tomiwa
19/11/202144 minutes 20 seconds
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Bernardine Evaristo

Ian McMillan meets Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo to explore her poetry, her essays and her fiction - to find out about her writing process and how it has evolved, her sources of inspiration and her influences.
12/11/202144 minutes 11 seconds
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As energy prices rise, electric cars charge, and the COP summit in Glasgow burns the midnight, er, electricity, we turn up the voltage on the language generated by that invisible force and think about our relationship with it. Ian's guests are the novelist and poet Ben Okri, the lexicographer Susie Dent, the futures ethnographer Laura Watts, and the actor and podcaster Kerry Shale, as Bob Dylan...
05/11/202144 minutes 18 seconds
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Ian McMillan on the language and poetry of puddings - with Lorraine Bowen, Joseph Coelho, Kate Fox, Frances Atkins and Fariha Shaikh. Singer, comedian and songwriter Lorraine Bowen is known to many as the 'Crumble Lady' - her song about cooking crumble won her huge audiences on 'Britain's Got Talent', and went viral on social media. We find out about how the word 'crumble' translates into other languages and Ian offers a Yorkshire dialect interpretation of the 'Crumble Song'. Joseph Coelho shares his spooky pudding poetry and reads a special commission for The Verb - a poem which explores the pleasure of disastrous puddings. His first poetry collection 'Werewolf Club Rules' was published in 2014. What if Emily Dickinson, T.S.Eliot and Maya Angelou took part in a poetry themed bake-off? That's the kind of thought experiment that stand-up poet Kate Fox likes to conduct for The Verb. She imagines their baking - and wonders if you can tell how well a poet will cook from their poetry.
22/10/202144 minutes 23 seconds
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George Mackay Brown and Orkney

The Verb celebrates Orkney and the work of George Mackay Brown in his centenary year. One of Scotland's greatest 20th century writers, George Mackay Brown was a poet, novelist, columnist and chronicler of Orcadian life. Ian McMillan is joined this week by the novelist James Robertson who is fascinated by 'time' in George Mackay Brown's work and has said his writing is 'full of beautiful sentences, big ideas, mischievous comedy, powerful tragedy and, again and again, simple observations that make you pause and say, yes, that’s it, that’s how it is'. James' most recent novel 'News of the Dead' also explores time. Alison Miller is National Library of Scotland and Orkney Library & Archive's Scots Scriever - she shares her love of George Mackay Brown's poem 'Them at Isbister' which appears in 'The Storm and other Poems', his first collection. Alison invites listeners to contact BBC Radio Orkney if they have a copy; only 250 were printed and she is part of a project to track as many down a
15/10/202144 minutes 12 seconds
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At Contains Strong Language

For the last of our programmes recorded at the Belgrade Theatre for the Contains Strong Language Festival of poetry and performance, Ian McMillan is joined by Simon Armitage & LYR, Theresa Lola, Romalyn Ante and Andrea Mbarushimana for a programme that celebrates the relationship between mentor and mentee, the importance of cultural exchange and work that pushes at the boundaries. Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage has been working with the musicians Richard Walters and Patrick Pearson to set his spoken word to music under the name Land Yacht Regatta (LYR). For the Verb they play two songs from their 2020 album ‘Call in the Crash Team’, which join Armitage's lyrics with intense and atmospheric musical arrangements from Walters and Pearson. Theresa Lola is a British Nigerian writer and poet. In 2019 she was appointed the 2019/2020 Young People's Laureate for London, and her debut poetry collection 'In Search of Equilibrium' is published by Nine Arches. Romalyn Ante is a Filipino-born, W
08/10/202144 minutes 15 seconds
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Green Places and Haunts - The Verb at Contains Strong Language

Ian McMillan is joined by an audience at the Belgrade Theatre as he explores Coventry's green places and the river that ghosts through the city with poets David Morley, John Bernard, Sujana Crawford and Olga Dermott-Bond. He is also joined by musicians from the City of Coventry Brass Band. Poet David Morley unpacks the meaning of the River Sherbourne, which flows through and under Coventry. David is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and his latest collection is 'Fury' (Carcanet). He is also a freshwater ecologist and brings an ecologist's attention and ear for language to his Sherbourne poem. John Bernard also explores the River Sherbourne with a poem called 'Revered River'. John is a spoken word artist and rapper – and a finalist on Radio 1 Extra and Asian Network’s ‘Words First’ programme. He explores the idea that he has become 'acquainted' with the river. Sujana Crawford reads a poem called 'Marshland Whispers' - inspired by Brandon Marsh, a nature rese
01/10/202144 minutes 27 seconds
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Live from Contains Strong Language

The Verb is Live at the Contains Strong Language festival of poetry and performance at the 2021 City of Culture, Coventry. Ian McMillan is in front of a studio audience at the Belgrade Theare and will be joined by just a few of the festival guests; the Mercury-prize nominated musician Loyle Carner and poets John Agard, Siana Bangura and Roy Mcfarlane. Loyle Carner is a hip-hop artist with a love of poetry that began when he was a child. His debut album, 'Yesterday's Gone' was nominated for the Mercury Prize and he released the follow up, 'Not Waving But Drowning' in 2019. Loyle shares Guyanese heritage with one of his poetic heroes, John Agard. One of our best loved poets, John agard was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry in 2012. Poets Siana Bangura and Roy Mcfarlane have been comissioned by Contains Strong Language to walk 'In Ira Aldridege's Footsteps', here, they celebrate the groundbreaking African American actor-manager and his connection to Coventry. Presenter: Ian
25/09/202144 minutes 22 seconds
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New Rules for Writing - Manifesto Launch

We reveal our new 'Rules for Writing' - six ideas to inspire, excite, and to break! The musician and songwriter Damon Albarn - and award-winning poets Don Paterson and Elizabeth-Jane Burnett - all join Ian McMillan to illustrate these provocations, which are designed to help launch a new era of poetry, story-writing and performance. The composer and producer Gerry Diver has also contributed a piece of sound art inspired by the cadences of the human voice called 'You May be Mistaken'. Across our 'Experiments in Living' season, The Verb asked over a hundred guests ( including Margaret Atwood, Yanis Varoufakis, Claudia Rankine and Simon Armitage ) for their ideas about how we might write most powerfully, and creatively in these times. Certain themes surfaced again and again, including time, uncertainty, the non-human world, and listening. Find out how they made their way into our manifesto, and inspired our six new rules.
17/09/202146 minutes 21 seconds
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The Keepnet Verb - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan is joined by Anita Sethi, Kate Fox, Ira Lightman, and Tom Chatfield to explore the language of time, listening and uncertainty and to celebrate the most compelling ideas that have been gathered into the Verb's 'keepnet' over the last year. This is the final summit of our 'Experiments in Living' season, before we reveal our writing manifesto in the autumn. Writer and journalist Anita Sethi reads from her book 'I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain' , the story of how a race-hate crime on a train led her to undertake a series of journeys through northern landscapes. Anita discusses the importance of thinking about deep time and the natural world, and listening as an act of restoration. Technology philosopher Tom Chatfield's new book is called 'How to Think' and it touches on many of the themes that have been surfacing and resurfacing on The Verb over the last year, including 'uncertainty' and the way language can help us think clearly about technology a
30/07/202144 minutes 12 seconds
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How to Write a Manifesto - Experiments in Living

What makes a good manifesto? Are they better if they are sloganeering or questioning? Radio 1's Greg James and co-writer Chris Smith's new book is like a manifesto for the imagination, Malika Booker co-founded a poetry workshop that has transformed the literary landscape, and Kathryn Williams' songs always chart new territory - they join Ian McMillan to help him shape The Verb Manifesto which will be launched in the autumn. Malika Booker founded the poetry workshop 'Malika's Poetry Kitchen' alongside fellow poet Robert Robinson twenty years ago, inspired in part by the American writer June Jordan's ideas in 'Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Handbook' . The workshop has included many of our most exciting poets, and an anthology celebrating the workshop is published on 5th August, called 'Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different' ( edited by Maisie Lawrence and Rishi Dastidar). Greg James and Chris Smith have turned an idea that came to Greg in a dream, into a novel for children calle
23/07/202144 minutes 19 seconds
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The Politics Verb - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan is joined by the Labour Party politician Ed Miliband, by ambassador for ‘Compassion in Politics’ Jackie Weaver ( Jackie recently shot to fame after a parish council meeting went viral), by writer Emilie Robson with a 'Verb Drama' featuring an existentialist cat, and by our regular guest, stand-up poet Kate Fox. How do they think the language of politics could change to become more compassionate? And what about their perception of the word ‘authority’? Can writers help us see it differently? And why did the young Ed Miliband love the 1980s US soap opera Dallas so much - which was all about the power and authority exerted by Stetson-wearing characters like JR Ewing?
25/06/202144 minutes 9 seconds
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Tree Thinking - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan on the language we use to think and write about trees and the kind of thinking we do alongside them - with forester and environmentalist Peter Wohlleben whose books include 'The Hidden Life of Trees', poet and academic Jason Allen-Paisant, bestselling novelist Sarah Moss, and Scots language specialist and Makar of the North East, Sheena Blackhall. Producer: Ruth Thomson
11/06/202143 minutes 3 seconds
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Time Scales - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan on how language and poetry affect our perception of time. In this Verb he explores the language of slowness with Oxford University geographer Professor Danny Dorling, asks poet Rachael Boast to read time-bending poetry from her new collection 'Hotel Raphael' (and also to take us deep into the different time-modes and time-zones inhabited by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge). Philosopher Roman Krznaric explains how to write about future time and how to be a good ancestor, and Verb regular, stand-up poet Kate Fox offers an insight into the smooth running of book groups for other species: the slow-reading flies, and the fast-reading deep sea isopods. Suggestions for a time-themed Book Club: Danny Dorling - Slowdown Roman Krznaric - The Good Ancestor Rachael Boast - Hotel Raphael
04/06/202144 minutes 11 seconds
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The Hay Verb - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan is joined by some of the most dynamic writers taking part in the Hay Festival: Michael Morpurgo, one of the nation’s best-loved children’s authors and author of ‘War Horse’, columnist and best-selling feminist chronicler Caitlin Moran, and the award-winning Cameroonian American novelist Imbolo Mbue. They’ll be discussing the stories that change us, and offer hope of change - and explore how we tell stories about ‘change’, be it ecological, emotional or physical.
28/05/202143 minutes 56 seconds
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Reverie - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan explores the dream like experience of 'reverie' - with Terrance Hayes, Bea Roberts, Rachel Genn and Ira Lightman. What does reverie mean to writers in 2021? Is it simply a waste of time and a state of procrastination? Novelist and neuroscientist Rachel Genn argues that a reverie can be a creative state, a propping open of the self, which lets the world 'sniff around'. The state of reverie was important to Wanda Coleman, the American poet known as 'the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles'. Coleman died in 2013, and her selected poems 'Wicked Enchantment' has just been published. The collection is edited and introduced by the poet Terrance Hayes, who joins us to celebrate her work, and to share one of her 'American sonnets', which inspired the form of his own collection 'American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin'. ' How does modern technology affect reverie? Can we truly get lost in our thoughts in the age of the 'doomscroll' and the 'rabbit-hole' of the interne
21/05/202144 minutes 1 second
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Family Time - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan explores the language of ancestry and the impact our families have on us across the generations and through the passing of time. With poets Hollie McNish whose grannies feature prominently in her latest collection 'Slug...and other things I've been told to hate', and Gillian Clarke whose new bilingual edition of The Gododdin - written by the 13th-century Welsh bard Aneirin - acknowledges what we inherit from the past. And columnist and author of 'House of Glass' Hadley Freeman, who found a shoebox of objects in the back of her grandmother's closet which told the story of four Polish siblings whose lives went in very different directions. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Ruth Thomson
14/05/202143 minutes 43 seconds
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Collaborations - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan explores the skill of collaboration - joined by guests Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, who write best-selling thrillers under the pseudonym Nicci French, and by Britain's finest, if only, comedy-jazz-rap duo 'Harry and Chris' (poet Harry Baker is a Poetry Slam Champion, and Chris Read is an award winning songwriter); they talk - and sing - about the ups and downs of creative collaboration. Nicci French's latest book is 'The House of Correction'. 'Harry and Chris' are performing with a socially distanced audience in May and June.
07/05/202144 minutes
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Writing Technology - Experiments in Living

What kind of writing keeps us thinking about technology and social media platforms, and their place in our lives - especially when they're seamlessly woven into our days? Ian McMillan is joined by comedian and actress Isy Suttie, political analyst Nanjala Nyabola, the poet Jack Underwood, and communications lecturer Dr Paul Taylor. Isy Suttie writes and performs a brand new song for The Verb about disappearing into the wormhole of the smartphone, and considers throwing her devices into the sea. But will that just encourage sharks to tweet, she wonders? Isy won a Sony Award for her radio series 'Pearl and Dave'; her novel 'Jane is Trying' is published later this year. Political Analyst and essayist Nanjala Nyabola tells us about the satisfaction of finding Kiswahili words for technological terms conceived in English, and how important the right language is for shaping our political futures. Nanjala shares her love of the work of Botswanan writer Bessie Head and discusses her collectio
30/04/202143 minutes 59 seconds
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Pausing and Punctuation - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan celebrates pauses and punctuation with guests Kei Miller, Eley Williams, Kate Fox and Angela Leighton. They explore the different emotions, listening and reading experiences prompted by brackets, full stops, em dashes, blank spaces, and other writerly ways of building obstacles, time and listening into poetry and prose. Eley Williams reads a brand new commission for The Verb, a very short story, which delights in the longest dash of all - the em dash, putting it at the heart of a romance. Eley is the author of the novel 'The Liar's Dictionary' and a BBC National Short Story Finalist. Verb regular and stand-up poet Kate Fox offers a very personal review of various forms of punctuation - imagining them as rest stops. Is a full stop like 'bunking in a hostel on a Scottish island and rolling over on to a pocket full of Kendal Mint Cake in the middle of the night'? Kate thinks so. Poet and essayist Kei Miller discusses the way he uses space on the page, particularly in his n
23/04/202143 minutes 59 seconds
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Determination in Writing - Experiments in Living

How determined do you have to be to become a writer? How do you return to the page every day when inspiration runs dry, or you receive a rejection? And how do you know when to step away in case your writing becomes over-determined. To answer these questions Ian McMillan is joined by guests including Paula Byrne who has just written a new biography of the British novelist Barbara Pym, who wrote for many years before being published, and was unceremoniously dropped by her publisher when her work become unfashionable. Monique Roffey's novel 'The Mermaid of Black Conch' won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2020 - but its path to publication wasn't straightforward. Here Monique discusses keeping faith in your work when it doesn't appear to fit in any boxes. And we have brand new poetry from Marvin Thompson, winner of the National Poetry Competition award for his poem '‘The Fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22)’ and from Iona Lee who has written us a new poem on 'Determination'. Pr
16/04/202144 minutes 7 seconds
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Planets - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan and guests delight in the writing and naming of planets (Ian loves Neptune best), exploring how we as writers influence the perception of them, and how our perception may influence how humans treat them. Bettany Hughes is a historian, author and broadcaster. She shares her passion for Venus (planet and goddess) and looks at the first poem where the moon is depicted as 'silvery'. Bettany is exploring the big questions of the universe in films called 'Tea with B', and in her interview with author Ben Okri describes poetry as 'The Mothership'. Two of the earth's most exciting sound poets - Hannah Silva and Tomomi Adachi tell Ian how they created sound poetry for Pluto, and explored its ambiguous status (it is not officially a planet any more). They also perform a spontaneous sound poem, especially for The Verb, celebrating the vast number of icy bodies with fascinating names in the Kuiper Belt. JO Morgan's collection 'The Martian's Regress' is a remarkable thought experime
02/04/202144 minutes 39 seconds
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Writing at Home - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan on how 'writing at home' inspires, constrains and infuses language and storytelling - with guests Maggie O'Farrell, whose award-winning novel 'Hamnet' takes us inside Shakespeare's home, the unofficial Poet Laureate of Twitter Brian Bilston, Berlin-based writer and football pundit Musa Okwonga, and poet Holly Peste, who has written a specially commissioned piece inspired by the sound of writing at home. Producer: Ruth Thomson
19/03/202144 minutes 23 seconds
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The Great Gatsby

This year, F Scott Fitzgerald's classic The Great Gatsby enters the public domain. What will this mean for one of America's best loved novels? Ian McMillan is joined by the academic and writer Sarah Churchwell, author of 'Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the invention of The Great Gatsby', to discuss why the language of the book is still so resonant to us today. And poet and playwright Inua Ellams considers the quality of 'emptiness' in the text and how Fitzgerald's writing made this glittering world of parties feel so hollow. Jonathan Bate's new book is 'Bright Star, Green Light: The Beautiful and Damned Lives of John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald'. Bate joins us to take us on a 'Keatsian' reading of The Great Gatsby And to examine the idea of the public domain, we'll also be looking at what it means to remix and play around with a text with musician, broadcaster and technologist LJ Rich. LJ is a synesthete - how does she Fitzgerald's book, famously drenched in colour from gree
12/03/202144 minutes 25 seconds
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Gratitude - Experiments in Living

In a world of daily pleases and thank yous, obligatory thank-you notes, and polite appreciation how can we express authentic gratitude with sincerity? Has lockdown made us more grateful? Can the expectation of gratitude be a burden? Poet Kate Fox assesses the etiquette of writers’ acknowledgements – who to thank? How much is too much? Is there such a thing as oversharing? Comedy writer Jack Bernhardt imagines how grateful you’d have to be – forever - if Superman saved your life. Sound artist Leafcutter John makes gratitude reverberate through a sheet of steel, and poet Michael Symmons Roberts reflects on the complexity of expressing gratitude in praise poetry, in a post-secular world. Producer: Ruth Thomson
05/03/202144 minutes 11 seconds
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Guilty pleasure. Airport novel. Holiday reading. The language used to describe crime fiction often suggests that there's something throwaway in the ability to craft a gripping story that keeps the reader guessing. There's a suggestion that creating "a page-turner" is something of a lesser skill when it comes to writing. Creeping up on that idea from behind and leaving its body in the library, we have three women who know a thing or two about the literature of crime. Val McDermid is a powerhouse of popular fiction, with works translated into 40 languages and more than 16 million books sold. She tells us about the narrative techniques she uses to keep us up late reading "just one more chapter" of novels like "Still Life". Sophie Hannah has been trusted with one of the crown jewels of detective fiction - Hercule Poirot. She tells us about the responsibility of taking on Agatha Christie's beloved character, and about how she switches modes for nail biters like "Haven't they Grown".
19/02/202144 minutes 15 seconds
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The Walk

You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk? At The Verb, we do both, as Ian McMillan is joined by guests who consider the deep connection between writing and walking. From the strut to the swagger, the amble to the lope, English has many words to get from A to B - all conveying a slightly different meaning. So where does writing and the physical journey meet? Jini Reddy talks about the quest for magic in the great outdoors, which is the subject of her Wainwright shortlisted book Wanderland. Theatre maker Testament tells us about his work "Black Men Walking" and proves that the inspirations and insights of a walk don't have to be based in the countryside, with a performance of his work City Song, a rap which sees us float through an urban landscape almost in a sleepwalk. Ira Lightman has recorded a special reaction to Wordsworth - surely the poet who is most often associated with the restorative powers of a walk - but the relationship with walking and feeling good is more nua
05/02/202144 minutes 15 seconds
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T.S. Eliot Prize

Join Ian McMillan for a celebration of remarkable poets and poetry as he presents readings from all the collections shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. The prize is awarded annually by the T.S. Eliot Foundation for the best collection of the year - and the winner receives £25,000. Bhanu Kapil was declared this year's winner by the judges, for her 'invigorating' collection 'How to Wash a Heart'. Alongside readings from the poets themselves, Ian reflects on the resonance of their poems during this period of uncertainty. In keeping with our season 'Experiments in Living', he asks, "how do these poems ask us to see the world?", what do they tell us about how we might live? Glyn Maxwell - How the hell are you (Picador Poetry) Ella Frears - Shine, Darling (Offord Road Books) Shane McCrae - Sometimes I Never Suffered (Corsair Poetry) Sasha Dugdale - Deformations (Carcanet Press) J O Morgan - The Martian’s Regress (Cape Poetry) Daisy Lafarge - Life Without Air (Granta Poetry) Natalie D
29/01/202144 minutes 16 seconds
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Writing the Weather - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan and guests including Jenny Offill, Alice Oswald and Wayne Binitie discuss weather writing. Alice Oswald The Oxford Professor of Poetry, Alice Oswald is a great listener to the weather, something she has written about as being part of her experiences as a gardener. She has shown great attentiveness to water in all forms – with books like ‘Dart’ her long river poem and with her writing on rain for Radio 3. Along with her co-editor Paul Keegan, Alice has put together an anthology of weather writing called ‘Gigantic Cinema ‘. For The Verb she reads from Daniel Defoe’s 'The Journal of the Plague year'; and from her own book ‘Nobody’. She also shares the following works: ‘My Cocaine Museum’ by Michael Taussig , ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel IV’ by Francois Rabelais , ‘Conversation about Dante’ by Osip Mandelstam, and ‘Trees in the Garden’ by DH Lawrence. The anthology is described as a 'bare-headed' collection, which in part means that titles from the selections are only referred
22/01/202144 minutes 17 seconds
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Optimism in Stories for Children - Experiments in Living

How do you give hope to children when you're not feeling hopeful? What's the difference between optimism and hope? How do children's writers balance light and dark, joy and sadness? And what kind of language sustains and nurtures us through difficult times when we're young? Smriti Halls, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Kate Fox and Gaia Vince join Ian McMillan for a 'hope-ist' Verb. Smriti Halls Smriti’s books often seek to acknowledge loss and sadness whilst suggesting through image, rhythm and story that we are never truly alone. Smriti reads from ‘Rain Before Rainbows’ and explains how carefully she thought about the balance of dark and light in this book for young children, and about the nature of time. Smriti shares the language that sustained her as a child – Louise May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ and Oscar Wilde's ‘The Happy Prince’. Books by Smriti are read all over the world: ‘I’m Sticking with You’ was a number one bestseller in the U.S.A and recent stories include ‘The Little Island
08/01/202144 minutes 23 seconds
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Christmas Lights Verb - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan and his guests explore the ‘language’ of light this Christmas. He’s joined by Baroness Floella Benjamin, who tells the story of leaving Trinidadian sunshine for the very different light in the south of England; one of our best-loved lexicographers, Susie Dent lets us into the vocabulary of light; poetry legend John Cooper Clarke talks about the leading lights of his childhood, and the glow of an extraordinary cocktail cabinet; and Ian rejoices in the glow of the screens that have connected us this year, with a celebration of the poet Edwin Morgan’s ‘The Computer’s First Christmas Card’, made into sound art by the musician Scanner. The poet Caroline Bergvall performs work that celebrates Morgan's centenary year; she also discusses the impact of Norwegian twilight on her work. Throughout the show, the socially distanced Knott Singers celebrate the starlight to be found in carols and introduce our guests with shining harmonies. Edwin Morgan was the first Scots National Ma
18/12/202046 minutes 45 seconds
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Brazil - Experiments in Living

This week Ian McMillan dives into the word 'Brazil' and 'Brazilian', discovering irony, fusion and confusion, and the astonishing ability of one of its most famous novelists, Clarice Lispector, to dilate time. He also translates a Brazilian poem into Yorkshire dialect to see what happens to the tone. Toby Litt The novelist Toby Litt has become fascinated by the novels of Clarice Lispector, and responds with his own fiction in this, her centenary year. Lispector was born in Ukraine but spent much of her childhood in Recife, also living as an adult in Europe and the USA, as well as Rio de Janeiro. Toby is intrigued by her ability to 'dilate time', something he was also praised for achieving in his most recent novel 'Patience' (Galley Beggar ). Victor Esses Victor Esses is a Brazilian theatre and performance maker and a live artist based in London. He is interested in participation, autobiographical material, storytelling and multimedia as ways to invest
11/12/202044 minutes 24 seconds
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Zero-Growth Writing - Experiments in Living

What might a zero-growth world mean for writers? The Verb offers this provocation to this week's guests, and asks how poets in particular can adjust to a world economy that's changing rapidly under long-down. Is there such a thing as a sustainable poem? Ian McMillan is joined by: Yanis Varoufakis, economist, author and member of the Greek Parliament, Dr Seren Griffiths, an archaeologist and Radio 3 New Generation Thinker (fascinated by time and the taxonomy of soil), by novelist and poet Patrick McGuinness who is intrigued by the idea of a poem that leaves the 'ordinary' just as it is, and we welcome Jade Cuttle, (critic and poet) back to the Verb for second time this season - she reads French eco-poetry to her house-plant for us and we listen to its reaction via special technology. Yanis Varoufakis' new novel is 'Another Now', Jade Cuttle's album of poem/songs is called 'Algal Bloom', and Patrick McGuinness's most recent publication is the novel 'Throw me to the Wolves'.
27/11/202044 minutes 20 seconds
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Jan Morris

In a special extended conversation with Ian McMillan, the travel writer Jan Morris looks back over a career in writing that has spanned seven decades and explains what it is that keeps her returning to her writing desk every day at the age of 91. Jan Morris has just published 'Battleship Yamato: Of War, Beauty and Irony' (Pallas Athene) - it's the story of a ship that has always fascinated her, but, as she tells Ian, more importantly it is a portrait of the ship as an allegory for war itself. Jan has always been interested in allegory, as she says 'everything turns out to have more than one meaning'. Jan takes us inside her writing practice, including discussion of her strong musical sense (she even sings sentences aloud), her love of the exclamation mark and why three is the magic number when it comes to writing drafts. Finally, after a life-time of making connections and putting them into words, and considering what she believes is the 'self-centred' nature of her job, Jan is an ad
20/11/202044 minutes 27 seconds
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Green Memoir - Experiments in Living

The Verb on 'green' memoir - with the actor and writer Gabriel Byrne, and the poets Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and Pascale Petit. What would our stories sound like if we told them through our relationships with the plants, animals and landscapes that are most dear to us? What happens when we start to see the natural world as an integral part of our own histories? Gabriel Byrne is an award-winning actor and writer. His new memoir 'Walking with Ghosts' starts emphatically and lyrically with the landscape of his childhood home in Ireland and the great pleasure he took in it as a child. Gabriel also talks about his relationship with the earth - the experience of feeling the ground shift during an earthquake in Los Angeles and about the 'photograph he carries in his heart' - a memory of a ploughman working the land. Pascale Petit won The Laurel Prize earlier this year (a new prize for poetry on environmental themes), for her remarkable poems fusing myth, the natural world (the teeming life
13/11/202044 minutes 24 seconds
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The Changing Language of Veganism: Experiments in Living

Are you what you eat? The way we talk and think about food has changed a lot in recent years, particularly when it comes to the idea of eating ethically and the concept of veganism. Once a punchline, it's now a multi-million pound industry. What do the words we use to talk about food tell us about the underlying moral issues? Why is food so tied up with shame? Can we find the language to become 'good enough' eaters? Joining Ian to talk about the language of food from 'clean' to 'dirty' are Benjamin Zephaniah, who became a vegan instinctively before he even knew the word for it, and who is perhaps best loved for his plea to be kinder to animals at Christmas; 'Talking Turkey'. The novelist Jonathan Safran Foer first examined morality and food in his 2009 non-fiction book 'Eating Animals', and it's a subject he has returned to in his latest book 'We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast'. Argentinian novelist Agustina Bazterrica explains the challenges of not eating m
06/11/202044 minutes 31 seconds
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Comedy writing in difficult times: Experiments in Living

This week Ian McMillan and guests are turning to humour to help us get through difficult times. If 'comedy equals tragedy plus time' - how much time do we need to make something funny? Or is it more dangerous to leave a topic too long, and risk your audience moving on? Because in comedy, timing is everything... Joining Ian are Ben Schott, the author of two novels set in the Jeeves and Wooster universe on why so many people have turned to P.G Wodehouse during lockdown, comedian Grainne Maguire on the challenges of performing to masked audiences and how comedy will adapt to socially distanced audiences, Kate Fox has written us a brand new poem on why she's found it difficult to be funny recently, and Dr Matt Winning explains how he makes climate change funny - and why humour might be the key to making people care about the planet. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
30/10/202044 minutes 25 seconds
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The Poetry of Walls: Inside Out at the Southbank Centre

Ian McMillan introduces new poetry that takes its cue from the limestone, fossils and concrete of the walls of London's Southbank Centre, in a celebration of all kinds of poetry walls, real and digital. His guests are the poets Chris McCabe, Anthony Anaxagorou, Joelle Taylor and Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa. Chris McCabe is a poet and the joint librarian of the National Poetry Library (based at the Southbank Centre). He performs a new commission for The Verb - inspired by the fossils ('scavengers and predators') in the limestone at the Royal Festival Hall. Chris has just edited 'Instagram Poetry for Every Day' and his poetry collections include 'The Triumph of Cancer' ( Penned in the Margins). Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a dancer and poet. In 2019 she became the first person to win the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam Championships, become a BBC 1 Extra & Asian Network Talent Search finalist and the Hammer and Tongue UK Poetry Slam Champion in the same year. Safiya has been thinking about walls a
23/10/202044 minutes 17 seconds
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Oil Stories - Experiments in Living

Ian McMillan and guests look at the way poets have written about oil and the oil industry.
16/10/202047 minutes 38 seconds
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Claudia Rankine - Experiments in Living

The Verb explores the art of conversation with Claudia Rankine, one of America's most innovative poets. She has just published her sixth poetry book 'Just Us' a work that combines poetry, poetic prose, images and marginalia, allowing them to speak with, to, and across each other. At a time when political conversation in the USA has been criticised for having too much heat and not enough light, Claudia Rankine explores how a poet's ability to navigate silences, stutters, and the endings of poems, can bring truth-telling and resilience to difficult encounters - especially to conversations about whiteness, inequality and friendship. She also shares with Ian the early influences on her writer's ear: the work of the poet Emily Dickinson, the novels of Louisa May Alcott, and the poetry of Adrienne Rich. Claudia Rankine won many awards for her last book 'Citizen- An American Lyric', including two National Book Critics Awards and the Forward Prize. One of Citizen’s reviewers, the critic Kat
09/10/202044 minutes 15 seconds
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Landscape & Language: Experiments in Living

This year the Contains Strong Language Festival of poetry and spoken word goes to Cumbria, as part of the programme of events marking the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth's birth. This week's Verb was recorded at the Forum Theatre in Barrow-in-Furness, with a small, but enthusiastic socially distanced audience. Our theme is the meeting of language and landscape, and Ian's guests are the poet Clare Shaw whose 2018 collection Flood conveys water at its most awesome and destructive, writer and playwright Zosia Wand, who uses the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay as her stage in work that examines how we find identity amidst unreliable memories and family secrets. National Youth Slam Poetry Champion Matt Sowerby is one of the poets commissioned by the Contains Strong Language Festival to write a poem in response to Ruskin's View, alongside Karen Lloyd, who also reads from her work in progress book of essays on the importance of telling hopeful stories and truly paying attention tot h
02/10/202044 minutes 34 seconds
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Wordsworth: Experiments in Living at Contains Strong Language

The Verb celebrates 250 years since Wordsworth's birth. Ian McMillan is joined by poets Hussain Manawer, Luke Wright, Kim Moore, and Helen Mort - part of the Contains Strong Language Festival and recorded at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Which ideas from Wordsworth's 'Preface to the Lyrical Ballads' appeal most to our guests? Ian finds out and hears brand new poetry.
25/09/202044 minutes 31 seconds
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Nature Poetry: Experiments in Living

Do extraordinary times call for extraordinary kinds of writing and attention? Is it time to recalibrate, as William Wordsworth did in the middle of a revolutionary age, with his ‘Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’ ( his poetic manifesto with ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity' at its heart’)? Join The Verb each week for ‘experiments in living’ and experiments in language, as we build a new writing manifesto with the help of all our guests.   The first experiment is in nature poetry, and this week Ian is joined by Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate. Simon has founded the Laurel Prize, an annual award for the best collection of nature or environmental poetry published over the last five years. He’s joined by fellow Laurel Prize judge, Moniza Alvi, whose latest poetry collection is ‘Blackbird, Bye Bye’. Shortlisted for the Laurel Prize are Colin Simms for his collection ‘Hen Harrier Poems’, Pascale Petit for ‘Mama Amazonica’ and Karen McCarthy Woolf for ‘Seasonal Disturbances’. We hear re
18/09/202045 minutes 25 seconds
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Salman Rushdie

Ian McMillan talks to Salman Rushdie about writing ‘cancel culture’ into his latest novel ‘Quichotte’, putting the realism into magic realism, the craft of an opening sentence, the appeal of Latin hymns, the genius of PG Wodehouse – and the resonance throughout his work of the classic film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. To close the Verb season, Dr Jason Allen- Paisant reads his poem 'A Sound From The Throat of God', written after the killing of George Floyd. Allen-Paisant's work has been published in Callaloo and PN Review and his debut collection is forthcoming from Carcarnet. He is Lecturer in Caribbean Poetry and Decolonial Thought at the University of Leeds. Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie’s latest novel is ‘Quichotte’ – a story with echoes and plot rhymes, where the main protagonist is in love with a celebrity called Salma R, and goes on a road trip with an imaginary son. It’s a story where people are capable of turning into rhinoceroses, communicate in chess moves, and which also interr
17/07/202052 minutes 18 seconds
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Domestic Violence - in language, myths, and fairy stories

Ian McMillan is joined by former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey, the poet Louise Fazackerley, linguist Deborah Cameron and singer Kathryn Williams to explore the language that feeds into domestic violence, and the images, myths and fairy stories that can help us cope with it, and prevent it. Natasha Trethewey Natasha is a former US poet Laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner. She brings tenderness, compassion, and forensic attention to language in her new memoir ‘Memorial Drive’ (Memorial Drive), an account of growing up with violence in the home, and of her mother’s killing at the hands of her stepfather. Natasha explores the layers of silence that surround intimate violence – the way children’s speech is often disregarded, even if they overcome their own silencing. Kathryn Williams Kathryn Williams is one of the most subtle singer-songwriters of her generation, crafting songs which balance strength and delicacy. Here she performs a special rendition of
10/07/202044 minutes 40 seconds
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The Ledbury Festival

This week we celebrate the spirit of the Ledbury Poetry Festival. With a distinctly international programme, Ledbury is one of the best-loved events in the UK literary calendar. The festival has been, like many events, sadly cancelled this year. Ian McMillan is joined by Sandeep Parmar of the Ledbury Festival Board and just a few of the poets who would have appeared at the 2020 event; Carolyn Forché, Kaveh Akbar and Juana Adcock. As part of the festival programme, Carolyn Forché was going to be in conversation with Sandeep, so here we give Sandeep a chance to ask just a few of the questions she wanted to ask. Carolyn has recently published her first collection of poetry in 17 years, 'In the Lateness of the World' (Bloodaxe). Juana Adcock discusses her translation of the Mexican poet Hubert Matiuwaa, and reads a poem from her collection 'Split' (Blue Diode), set to music by Jer Reid. Kaveh Akbar's debut collection 'Calling A Wolf A Wolf' was published to great acclaim in 2017, and her
03/07/202048 minutes 34 seconds
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The Octopus Verb

An eight-tentacled look at the world of the cephalopod, and the way these intelligent sea creatures inspire writers and performers. Peter Godfrey Smith is the author of ‘Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness’. The book has become a cult classic, introducing many people to the remarkable intelligence of the octopus and other cepahalopods, and asking questions about what the evolution of that intelligence might mean for humans. Peter shares his experience of an incredible cuttlefish display, watching it change colour repeatedly, and shares his sense that cephalopods are often as interested in humans as we are in them. Whilst writing her latest book, Tania Hershman was surprised to find herself with a female octopus as an imaginary friend. Tania reads from her work-in-progress, a poetry collection entitled ‘Still Life with Octopus’ in which the poet discovers her octopus reading several books at the same time, and performing feats of flexibility (a s
19/06/202049 minutes 19 seconds
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Writers of the Caribbean diaspora

This week's Verb looks at writing from the Caribbean diaspora. The poet Roger Robinson won the T.S. Eliot award and the Ondaatje prize for his collection 'A Portable Paradise' (Peepal Tree). Roger explains how the title poem, with it's theme of finding paradise inside yourself, has been taken to heart by many in the age of Covid-19. Ingrid Persaud won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2018, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017, and Love After Love (Faber) is her debut novel. Set in Trinidad, the novel centers on an unconventional family unit and examines questions of unconditional love and the legacy of violence. Writer, Poet and Theatre Maker Malika Booker was the first Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her work in progress involves marrying the language King James Bible with the languages and culture of the Caribbean. Jacob Sam La Rose was born in the UK and his family are from Guyana. He has always felt he inhabits a liminal space between these cu
12/06/202046 minutes 46 seconds
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Language Lockdown

A few months ago, writing an email to a colleague that starts 'I hope you are safe in these extraordinary times' would have been an unusual thing to do, but it very quickly became 'the new normal'. This week Ian McMillan and guests look at the many ways in which our language has adapted to fit our our new routines, from Zooming with friends to socially distancing in supermarkets. Rob Drummond, The Verb's resident linguist has been keeping an ear out for the neologisms of our time, and Kate Clanchy presents some of the work written by her students as part of their weekly online poetry classes. With more time to read, many of us are finding solace in our bookshelves, and discovering new resonances in classic texts. In a piece especially recorded for The Verb, Julie Hesmondhalgh reads from Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell, accompanied by Nicholas Howson & Ruth Montgomery from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, just two of the many musicians who have turned their creative energies towards new w
05/06/202048 minutes 30 seconds
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Woods, Weeds and Wildflowers: Nature Poetry

Since her first collection, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 1996, Alice Oswald has been a major voice in UK poetry, with collections that frequently examine the natural world. In 2002 she won the T.S. Eliot Prize for 'Dart', a book-length poem telling the story of Devon's River Dart. Her latest collection, 'Nobody', is inspired by The Odyssey. Fiona Sampson has just published a new of poetry 'Come Down', which is situated in two contrasting landscapes in Hertfordshire and Australia. Her previous work, 'Limestone Country (Little Toller), is also rooted in place, telling personal stories about four particular limestone landscapes: a farming hamlet in Perigord, France, the Karst region of Slovenia, Coleshill, a rural parish in Oxfordshire, and Jerusalem. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
29/05/202044 minutes 18 seconds
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Virtual Hay Festival

Our annual trip to the BBC Tent at the Hay Festival is one of the highlights of the Verb calendar. This week Ian McMillan is joined by just a few of the fantastic writers who are keeping the spirit of the festival alive with Digital Hay Festival, which runs until the 31st May 2020. Ian's guests are Inua Ellams, who will be performing from his show 'An Evening with An Immigrant', a personal story - and updating it to reflect impact of the global pandemic. James Shapiro discusses his latest book 'Shakespeare in a Divided America', and Kapka Kassbova reads from 'To the Lake'. And finally we're joined by the director of the Hay Festival, Peter Florence, on how they hope to preserve some of the magic of the festival in the digital space. For information on how to take part in the digital festival please visit the Hay website: Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
22/05/202044 minutes 16 seconds
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How have humans interpreted and been inspired by birdsong? Ian is joined by musician and song collector Sam Lee, who discusses the magic that happens on his annual Singing with Nightingale walks, TS Eliot award winning poet Jen Hadfield on the birds of her beloved Shetland and Richard Smyth, author of 'A Sweet Wild Note' reminds us that birdsong really has very little to do with music. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
15/05/202053 minutes 44 seconds
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This week The Verb is considering language, reflection and mirrors. There's a brand new commission from our palindromic poet regular Ira Lightman and joining us from San Francisco is Rebecca Solnit on her new memoir 'Recollections of my non-existence' (Granta) Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
24/04/202044 minutes 41 seconds
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Ian McMillan is joined by guests Alan Titchmarsh and Patience Agbabi and there's the first in a brand new series of Verb Dramas. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
17/04/202044 minutes 36 seconds
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This week, Ian McMillan is joined from a distance by his guests, who are all in their own homes. Together they discuss the changing language we are all using as we try to keep friendships alive whilst isolating. There's a brand new poem from Kate Fox, advice from someone used to working alone from A.L Kennedy, John Carey takes us through some poetry that might hold solace for us, Caroline Bird reads a poem that is helping her, and Boo Hewerdine performs a song commissioned especially for The Verb Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
10/04/202044 minutes 43 seconds
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African Writing

Ian McMillan explores African writing with Maaza Mengiste, Ekow Eshun, Jennifer Makumbi and Ellah Wakatama. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
03/04/202050 minutes 19 seconds
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This week, the late-night language lock-in is feeling uncertain with Shaun Usher, Jo Neary and Jude Rogers.
28/03/202044 minutes 41 seconds
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When the world changes suddenly - how do we know what to abandon and what to keep? William Gibson, Don Paterson, Caro C, and Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún explore the writing of obsolescence with Ian McMillan. The iconic 1960s television series 'The Twilight Zone' is replete with sudden ruptures to daily life -Don Paterson explains how he used the series to write poems that explore our relationship with obsolescence. Sound artist and composer Caro C shares a new commission for The Verb, the novelist famed for conceiving 'cyberspace', William Gibson, considers the disappearance of the future, and Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún explains why he strives to give Nigerian English and the Yoruba language a technological presence. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
21/03/202043 minutes 23 seconds
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Poetry and philosophy

Ian McMillan asks where poetry and philosophy meet - with guests Raymond Antrobus and Helen Mort.
06/03/202049 minutes 41 seconds
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The Language of Leaving

Ian McMillan explores the language of leaving, resettling and exile with songwriter Ana Silvera and poets John McAuliffe, Igor Klikovac, Mina Gorji, and André Naffis-Sahely.
28/02/202046 minutes 33 seconds
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Welcome to Hotel Verb. Checking in with Ian McMillan this week are novelist Eimear McBride. Eimear won the Goldsmiths Prize and the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction for her debut novel 'A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing'. Since then, she's spent a lot of time in hotels, inspiring her new novel 'Strange Hotel' (Faber), in which the hotel becomes a metaphor for middle age. Joining Eimear is Andy Miller, author of 'The Year of Reading Dangerously' and presenter of the Backlisted Podcast. Andy Miller celebrates his favourite author, Anita Brookner, and her Booker Prize-winning classic novel, 'Hotel du Lac' And Roger Luckhurst is the author of 'Corridors: Passages of Modernity', on corridors, 'Monster hotels', and the fictional hotel corridors that populate our imaginations. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
21/02/202048 minutes 22 seconds
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Native American Writing

Poets Layli Long Soldier who is Oglala Lakota, and Natalie Diaz who is Mojave, join Ian McMillan for a programme in which they explore the power of pleasure, the effect of recurring images - and the way language can fall short in conveying apology. Professor Sarah Rivett explores the profound impact that Algonquin languages have had on the European mindset, and on the culture of the USA.
07/02/202044 minutes 19 seconds
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How can writers make 'goodness' compelling, as a theme or character trait ? Why is virtue-signalling seen as a negative thing? Is poetry the best form for exploring goodness? And do we need more writing about goodness, and more imaginative imagery for it'? Ian McMillan is joined by guests Toby Litt, Will Harris, Kate Fox and Kelcey Wilson-Lee. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
31/01/202047 minutes 45 seconds
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Puns and Wordplay

Puns have a long history in human writing. Most of us recognise them as those little gems of comedy genius that make you laugh, or groan, but they're useful for being more than just funny, they're also fundamental to what makes poetry work and they provide the engine of change in language by allowing ideas to slip from one meaning to another. Artist and composer Hannah Catherine Jones, comedy writer Jack Bernhardt, poet Nasser Hussain and Sam Leith - Literary editor of The Spectator - join Ian Macmillan to reveal the linguistic power of the pun.
24/01/202046 minutes 52 seconds
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The World of Poetry Publishing

A must for those who submit poetry and fiction to presses and magazines - the Verb takes a deep dive into the language of the poetry publishing world. It's a vibrant landscape, with publishers like Carcanet celebrating 50 years in business, and a whole host of smaller presses and magazine publishers thriving both online and in print. Many of the people behind the scenes are poets and writers themselves, including our guests. They explore the 'poetry' words that inexplicably appear in submissions, the balance between writing and editing, and how to write book blurbs without using the word 'exciting'. Ian is joined by Michael Schmidt, Peter Sansom, Malachi McIntosh, and Nell Nelson. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
10/01/202045 minutes 59 seconds
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Christmas Nonsense

The Christmas Verb rejoices in the pleasure of nonsense language, nonsense stories, ridiculous rhymes and things that makes no sense at all. Presenter Ian McMillan is joined by one of the greatest children’s book partnerships of all time, Julia Donaldson and Axel Schleffer, whose made-up monster the ‘Gruffalo’ is now part of childhoods all over the world – he’s also joined by the former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen with new poetry; Michael’s latest book celebrates the power of silliness and nonsense in all our lives.
20/12/201944 minutes 41 seconds
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Sports Writing

This week the cabaret of the word heads to the playing field to examine the language of sports writing. Playing for Ian McMillan's team are the T.S.Eliot nominated poet Zaffar Kunial who has just published a pamphlet of poems on cricket, Frank Skinner, whose 'Fantasy Football League' set the tone for sports coverage in the 90's, and we'll hear another short form audio piece recorded as part of the 'New Creatives' Scheme; Joseph Bond's creative documentary 'All Ball'. Verb regular Rob Drummond returns with an analysis of the lexicon of sports commentators Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
06/12/201950 minutes 16 seconds
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To the Circus

This week The Verb goes to the Circus where it uncovers the darker side of the Victorian fair and the extraordinary language used to tell the stories of the living exhibits of the Freak Show with ringmaster extraordinaire Norman Barrett, historian John Woolf, writer Rosie Garland and poet Keith Hutson. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
29/11/201949 minutes 32 seconds
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German poetry after the Berlin Wall

Ian McMillan explores German poetry after the fall of the Berlin Wall – with two of Germany’s most celebrated and groundbreaking poets Durs Grünbein and Nora Gomringer. He is also joined by Professor Karen Leeder who’s explored the ways in which contemporary German literature is ‘haunted’ by the GDR, and by Ira Lightman who reads a new poem haunted by Rainer Maria Rilke – the German language poet most often translated into English - and a translation of one of Durs' poems. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
15/11/201946 minutes 23 seconds
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Novels that Shaped Our Language

Part of the BBC's year-long celebration of books, The Verb looks at the way the language of novels inspires writers. Joining Ian McMillan to champion the books that have inspired them are Tim Minchin, Kit De Waal, Elif Shafak and Geoff Dyer. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
08/11/201944 minutes 31 seconds
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This week The Verb examines the idea of 'Alone', whether it means revelling in solitude or drowning in loneliness. Joining Ian are debut novelist Okechukwu Nzelu, whose 'The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney' examines finding yourself and where you belong, and Will Taylor who will be presenting an excerpt of his audio drama 'Black Boys Cry', produced as part of the BBC's New Creatives scheme. DJ Taylor takes us on a tour of the loneliest characters, place and sentences in literature, as well as an examination of the 'The Lost Girls' - the subject of his new book, and there's a specially commissioned sound piece from Kate Carr. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
01/11/201944 minutes 43 seconds
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The Verb

Ian McMillan with writing inspired by molluscs (snails, slugs, and cockles) - he's joined by the novelist Jill Dawson on Patricia Highsmith's pet snails, poets Isabel Galleymore and Kate Fox, and Richard Gameson on the mystery of snail battles in the margins of medieval manuscripts.
18/10/201944 minutes 17 seconds
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The Moon Verb

This week, Ian McMillan and the guests shoot for the moon. Ian is joined by Ocean Vuong, winner of the 2017 TS Eliot prize for 'Night Sky with Exit Wounds', who has just published his first novel 'On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous' (Cape). Ocean celebrates his favourite recent moon writing by Mojave American poet Natalie Diaz. We also her from Mary Jean Chan, who has just published her debut collection 'Flèche'. As it's our last programme of The Verb season before we take our summer break, we've brought together our Verb regulars from the past year - poets Ira Lightman and Kate Fox and linguist Rob Drummond. Together they be considering how man walking on the moon 50 years ago has changed our language and our relationship with the moon, and there will be brand new poetry from both Kate and Ira. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
19/07/201950 minutes 18 seconds
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The Sound of Translation

The 'feel' of another language and the impact of its sound is hard to convey in translation. Are there ways to be more faithful to the visceral experience of a prose piece or a poem? Or should we be questioning the idea that a translator can or should be faithful? Rowan Williams discusses the 'verbal spring' of the iconic Welsh bard Taliesin and the work attributed to him, novelist Adam Thirlwell and Palestinian writer Adania Shibli explore the pleasures and possibilities of simultaneous translation and performance, and Sophie Collins shares her experience of translating (from the Dutch) Lieke Marsman's poetry. Producer: Faith Lawrence Presenter: Ian McMillan
12/07/201944 minutes 45 seconds
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The Common or Vulgar Verb

What kind of writing and behaviour gets called 'vulgar' and how does 'vulgar' relate to the word 'common'? The Verb explores the power of both words: their power to hurt and shame, the way they help, hinder and enlighten us - and asks whether we can do without them. Poets Philip Gross, Jacqueline Saphra, Heather Phillipson (the next artist to be curating the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square) and writer Cathy Rentzenbrink join Ian McMillan. Producer: Faith Lawrence Presenter: Ian McMillan
05/07/201950 minutes 28 seconds
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This week The Verb is live at The Aldeburgh Festival in Snape Maltings. Joining Ian and a studio audience are Lavinia Greenlaw, Fiona Sampson and Mark Padmore. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
08/06/201946 minutes 38 seconds
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The Hay Festival

This week The Verb comes from The Hay Festival, recorded in front of an audience at the BBC Tent. Ian's guests are the writer John Lanchester on his new dystopian novel 'The Wall' (Faber), poet Hannah Sullivan who recently won the TS Eliot Prize for her debut collection 'Three Poems' (Faber), comedian and 'Mash Report' star Rachel Parris on the art of the musical parody and Nina Stibbe whose novel 'Reasons to Be Cheerful was awarded The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen
31/05/201944 minutes 19 seconds
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The Verb does a deep dive into the word 'America' - why does it have such a hold on the imagination? Ian's guests are Tracy K Smith, the US Poet Laureate, nominated for the TS Eliot prize for her collection 'Wade in the Water', and Terrance Hayes, author of 'American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin', which was also shortlisted for the TS Eliot. Joining them is the critic Sarah Churchwell, author of Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
24/05/201944 minutes 14 seconds
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Along The River

This week The Verb is messing about on the river of language, part of BBC Radio 3's season of programmes on Rivers. Ian McMillan is joined by the Booker Prize-winning novelist Alan Hollinghurst, music journalist and broadcaster Jude Rogers and the poets Chris Wallace-Crabbe and MacGillivray. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
17/05/201950 minutes 11 seconds
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Speaking of Violence

Ian's guests on the 'late-night language lock-in' are the novelist Mark Haddon on his new novel The Porpoise' and poet Rachael Allen, whose debut collection 'Kingdomland' has just been published by Faber. We're also joined by Verb Regular Kate Fox and Allison Davies, who has written the next in our series of Verb dramas. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
10/05/201944 minutes 12 seconds
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Insects and Language

Ian McMillan and guests explore writing about insects and insect-language – including the way insect aliens are depicted in science fiction. Will Burns and Hannah Peel celebrate moths in a new sound commission, poet Elizabeth-Jane Burnett shares work-in-progress, linguist Rob Drummond explores Ursula Le Guin and Doctor Who, entomologist Richard Jones explains why he is happy to call himself 'Bugman', and editor Michael Schmidt celebrates the Australian poet Les Murray.
03/05/201952 minutes
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Writing the Gap

The Verb explores the pleasure and possibility of 'the gap', including line-breaks, spaces between words, and gaps in our understanding - with Linda Grant, Ira Lightman, Fiona Moore and Emma Smith. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
26/04/201944 minutes 13 seconds
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Michael Ondaatje

In an extended interview, the Booker Prize winning poet and novelist Michael Ondaatje sits down with Ian McMillan to discuss the pleasure of naming characters, dark houses as settings, listeners in his fiction, his re-shaping of forms, and the enduring inspiration of music, along with other aspects of his writing process. Michael is best known for his critically acclaimed novel, 'The English Patient', turned into an Oscar winning film starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, and now on the shortlist for the Golden Man Booker Prize - celebrating the past 50 years of winners. One of the most important musical ideas that informs Michael's work comes from the jazz musician Ornette Coleman - who said that 'you begin with the territory and what follows is the adventure'. Ian riffs off the 'territory' outlined in Michael's rich and sensuous poem 'Death at Kataragama', and uses its themes to inspire an adventure through his books - starting with his first novel 'Coming Through Slaughter
22/03/201943 minutes 43 seconds
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Myths Re-imagined

This week The Verb is looking at modern retelling and remixing of ancient stories. Jenny Lewis discusses her book 'Gilgamesh Retold' (Carcanet), Fiona Benson explains why Zeus is at the heart of her new collection 'Vertigo & Ghost' (Cape), there's new poetry from Richard Scott and Jack Bernhardt is off to Sherwood Forest, Hollywood style. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
15/03/201949 minutes 23 seconds
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How to write out sexism

The Verb explores footnotes, ironic detective fiction, poem-spells, satire, sound loops and neologisms - and the way they can all be used to fight sexist language - in honour of International Women's Day. Ian's guests are the writer and sociologist Professor Ann Oakley, who popularised the word 'gender' in the 1970s, and founded the Social Science Research Unit at the UCL Institute of Education, the novelist and critic Dr Siri Hustvedt on her new novel 'Memories of the Future', the poet Salena Godden on her new collection 'Pessimism is for Lightweights: 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance' - and he presents brand new work from sound artist and composer Ingrid Plum. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
08/03/201948 minutes 1 second
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Between Two Countries

Ian McMillan explores what happens when writers have to shift their thoughts and feelings into a second language. Novelist Patrick McGuinness argues that he can 'feel more than he can say in French, and say more than he can feel in English', Nick Makoha brings us a new poetry commission inspired by leaving Uganda (and three languages behind) when he was only four. We also hear about the 'Polish Sappho' - the groundbreaking poet Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska who moved to Blackpool during the Second World War, and Heather Dohollau (who was born in Wales , but became an acclaimed poet in French). And our returning guest, the poet Kate Fox skewers that the familiar trope of the book blurb - the writer who 'divides their time' by choice - between two equally glamorous locations.
01/03/201949 minutes 13 seconds
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Ian McMillan looks at language after dark and writing about nightlife with guests Dave Haslam, Geraldine Quigley, Rachael Young and Chris Green. Dave Haslam is a writer, broadcaster and Dj and the author of 'Life After Dark', a comprehensive history of nightlife in Britain. Geraldine Quigley's debut novel 'Music Love Drugs War' follows a group of young friends trying to have a good time against the background of the troubles in Derry, Theater Maker Rachael Young examines both the good and the bad sides of going out in her piece 'Nightclubbing', and there's brand new work from Christopher Green on his love of dancing. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
15/02/201944 minutes 36 seconds
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John Ruskin

Ian McMillan celebrates the bicentenary of writer, artist and critic John Ruskin, alongside US fiction writer Kristen Roupenian (author of 'Cat Person' - a story which went viral after being published in The New Yorker), Professor Dinah Birch, and Sarala Estruch. He also introduces a new commission inspired by Ruskin's fascination with geology (a collaboration between the musician Sonic Pleasure and Verb regular, the poet Ira Lightman).
08/02/201944 minutes 22 seconds
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The Subjunctive Verb

Ian McMillan gets into the subjunctive mood with brand new writing from Toby Litt, a new poetry commission from Holly Pester, on the subjunctive in welsh with Menna Elfyn and Rob Drummond explains why the subjunctive is dying out amongst the young... Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright
01/02/201949 minutes 53 seconds
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Don Paterson

The Verb this week is an extended conversation with the poet, editor, mentor, teacher and aphorist Don Paterson. Don Paterson first came to prominence in the early 90s, winning the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection for ‘Nil Nil’ in 1993. The following year he was selected as one of the Poetry Society’s ‘New Generation Poets’ alongside contemporaries such as Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Kathleen Jamie and his friend and mentor Michael Donaghy. He has published nine collections of poems, two of which have been awarded the TS Eliot Prize; God’s Gift to Women in 1997, and again in 2003 for Landing Light. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010. He also teaches at the University of St Andrews and is the Poetry editor at Picador. In a 45-minute conversation, Ian takes a forensic look at Don Paterson’s language map. They discuss the concept of the ‘true poem, the relationship between inspiration and spontaneity, where the impulse to write a poem comes from
25/01/201947 minutes 3 seconds
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W.S. Graham

The Verb celebrates the centenary of the poet W.S. Graham - exploring his language and his relationship with Cornwall. Ian McMillan presents new poetry inspired by Graham from Rachael Boast and Penelope Shuttle, songs inspired by the Cornish landscape from Gwenno, specially commissioned work from Gerry Diver ('The Speech Project') and a collaboration between Bob Devereux and Adrian O'Reilly. Writer's block, the silence of the blank page, words for the Cornish landscape, the Welsh concept of 'inspiration', 'the sea as metaphor of the sea' - hear about all of this and more in our W.S.Graham special. The Verb is in St Ives to celebrate W.S.Graham (known as Sydney), a poet fascinated by language, its possibilities and difficulties, who also wrote about 'love imagined into words' . In honour of Graham's centenary year, we hear unpublished poems (broadcast for first time), new commissions inspired by him ( written especially for The Verb), and we also present innovative performances of Grah
18/01/201944 minutes 11 seconds
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TS Eliot Prize Readings

Join Ian McMillan as he comperes a special evening of some of the very best poetry published over the last year - at the annual T.S.Eliot Prize readings, recorded in front of an audience at the Royal Festival Hall. All the short-listed poets will be featured, including the U.S. Laureate Tracy K Smith, Terrance Hayes, Nick Laird, Zaffar Kunial, Fiona Moore, Sean O'Brien, Ailbhe Darcy, Hannah Sullivan, Richard Scott and Phoebe Power.
14/01/201959 minutes 24 seconds
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We're crossing senses on The Verb this week, examining Synesthesia, with musician LJ Rich, linguist Rob Drummond, and poetry from Ruth Padel, Abi Palmer and Hannah Silva. For musician, broadcaster and synesthete LJ Rich, the world is drenched in music. With the help of a piano, she lets us inside her experience of the world, where tastes, colours and even the most boring train station make beautiful music. Verb regular, the linguist Rob Drummond has been researching the colour associations we all have with certain vowel sounds and has discovered some intriguing patterns. And there's plenty of poetry to stimulate your senses, Ruth Padel's latest collection is 'Emerald' (Chatto). The book is a meditation on grief, but is also shot through with colour. Hannah Silva presents her 'musical shirt', as made for her by Tomomi Adachi, the shirt is an invention that allows her to turn movement into sound poetry. And finally, poet and performer Abi Palmer finds that her synesthesia is heighte
11/01/201948 minutes 43 seconds
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The Christmas Verb

Merry Verb Christmas! We're at Vinyl Tap in Huddersfield for a festive evening of storytelling and song with brand new writing from poet, Simon Armitage, Joanne Harris and her Storytime Band and Owen Roberts. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
21/12/201847 minutes 52 seconds
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Sleepless Nights

Ian McMillan and guests examine the language of sleeplessness. How does AL Kennedy's insomnia inform her prose? Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun presents excerpts from her diary of motherhoood, there's brand new poetry from Bridget Minnamore on her experience of disordered sleep, and Marina Benjamin on her new book 'Insomnia' Producer Cecile Wright
14/12/201844 minutes 14 seconds
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With Will Eaves, Ben Schott, Selina Nwulu and Jeremy Noel-Tod
07/12/201849 minutes
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What's in a name?

with Iain Sinclair, Kate Fox, Sam Illingworth and Marilyn Hacker
30/11/201847 minutes 6 seconds
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Unwritten Poems - Verb Podcast Extra

To mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, The Verb presents ‘Unwritten’, a special edition of the programme telling the neglected stories of those who fought in the British West Indian Regiment, and the stories of those they left behind, through a series of new poems. The Verb recorded Unwritten in front of an audience at the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival in Hull earlier this year. We couldn't fit all the poems in the broadcast edition, so we've produced this extra podcast episode featuring the full length poems as performed at Contains Strong Language, alongside a previously unbroadcast poem by Kat Francois.
09/11/201845 minutes 36 seconds
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To mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, The Verb presents ‘Unwritten’, a special edition of the programme telling the neglected stories of those who fought in the British West Indian Regiment, and the stories of those they left behind, through a series of new poems. 15,600 men from the Caribbean served everywhere from Messines to Egypt, Passchendaele to Palestine – and many received medals for their bravery. However, as the poet Karen McCarthy Woolf comments, ‘The wartime stories of these Caribbean servicemen were largely unheard at the time and have remained so ever since…We know many of their names and the roles they played, but we have few first-hand accounts to tell us what their lives were like during the conflict… “Unwritten: Caribbean Poems After the First World War” is an attempt to address this gap in the narrative.’ Those poets commissioned by this project, writing and researching new work, come from both the Caribbean, and the Caribbean diaspora. Performin
09/11/201859 minutes 4 seconds
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Writing The Midlands

The Verb explores 'The Midlands' - with the novelist Jonathan Coe - on using the Midlands 'to think with' in his new book 'Middle England' , the poet Liz Berry on Black Country language, the writer and performer Steven Camden ( AKA Polar Bear) on the different influences on his 'voice' - and musician Ben Walker and researcher Bethany Whalley offer a sound art tribute to the cult 1974 film 'Penda's Fen'.
02/11/201849 minutes 56 seconds
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Instagram Poetry

The Verb on Instagram Poetry, and the pleasures of writing on social media. Ian McMillan, and writer and cartoonist Moose Allain, explore the bittersweet language of the grapefruit, the 'oo' in festoon, and the 'bone' in trombone - for a brand new Twitter word game called 'The Word Service'. Poets Yrsa Daley-Ward, Mandy Kahn, and Johnathan Rice share poems of anxiety, joy in the everyday, and dark humour.
26/10/201849 minutes 44 seconds
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Into The Forest

The Verb heads into the forest as part of Radio 3's season exploring the enchantment, escape and magical danger of forests. We explore the forest as metaphor with Terry Deary, Pascale Petit, with music and poetry from Claire Trévien and Kate Arnold, and Jack Bernhardt reminds us why teenagers should never go into the woods in horror films... Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Faith Lawrence
19/10/201845 minutes 29 seconds
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Failure for Writers

The Verb on 'failure' with Kate Fox, Mohammed Hanif, Scanner and Bryony Kimmings
12/10/201851 minutes 33 seconds
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Young Poets

Recorded at the Contains Strong Language Festival of poetry and performance in Hull, this week The Verb is examining young poets and young writing and celebrating 20 years of the Foyle Young Poet Award. Ian is joined by three previous winners of the the award. Phoebe Stuckes published her debut pamphlet Gin & Tonic in 2017, is a Barbican Young Poet, and has been a Foyle Young Poet four times. Jay Bernard won the 2017 Ted Hughes Award for their performance piece Surge: Side A, and was a Foyles winner in 2005. Their debut collection 'Surge' will be published in 2019. Caroline Bird published her debut collection 'Looking Through Letterboxes' when she was only fifteen years old, and having previously been a Foyles winner, was a judge for this years competition along with Daljit Nagra. Ian also introduces two of the winners of the 2018 award - Georgie Woodhead and Maiya Dambawinna. Jay Bernard and Phoebe Stuckes will also be taking part in a special gala celebrating 20 years of the Foyle
05/10/201849 minutes 28 seconds
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Contains Strong Language festival

The Verb at the 'Contains Strong Language' festival in Hull with Jackie Kay, Gruff Rhys, Louise Wallwein, Joe Hakim and work inspired by 'Palgrave's Golden Treasury'.
29/09/201853 minutes 30 seconds
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Latitude Festival

The Verb headed down to the Latitude Festival in Suffolk and popped up at their 'Speakeasy' spoken word stage. Joining Ian McMillan are: Luke Wright Latitude Festival veteran Luke Wright, who ran the Poetry Tent at the festival for eleven years. Luke performs from his new show 'Luke Wright@ Poet Laureate', and explains how he keeps his performances fresh night after night. Travis Alabanza Poet and performer Travis Alabanza reads from their debut chapbook 'Before I Step Outside You Love Me', and discusses how to make the streets as safe a place as the stage. Octavia Poetry Collective The Octavia poetry collective was put together by Rachel Long, who is joined by just a few of its talented members - Amina Jama & Victoria Adukwei Bulley. The podcast edition of the programme contains an exclusive performance from Sunayana Bhargava. Joelle Taylor Joelle reads from her new collection 'Songs My Enemy Taught Me'. The book came out of workshops with marginalised women, and here Joelle celeb
21/09/201854 minutes 27 seconds
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The Verb at the Proms

Ian McMillan is joined by Michael Palin on the language of 19th century Naval officers (drunk and sober), ‘Rule Britannia’, and a remarkable ship called ‘Erebus’, He's also joined by beatboxer Jason Singh who uses his voice to create an astonishing maritime soundscape, by Oscar-winning composer Anne Dudley who celebrates the yearning of First World War songs, and Mojdeh Stoakley who beachcombs the language of this 'Proms Verb' to create an instant poem. The Verb audience at Imperial College Union can be heard offering 'cries of delight' for Jason to loop across the introduction to the show, and they gamely attempt to find a replacement town for 'Tipperary' to create a new version of the famous song 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary'. Contains Strong Language: If you want to be part of A Verb audience later this month at the 'Contains Strong Language' festival, you can join Ian McMillan and guests at our Hull recordings on the 29th and 30th September. Free tickets are available if you f
14/09/201844 minutes 1 second
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The NHS at 70

The Verb celebrates the NHS at 70, exploring the language of the body, and the way bodies communicate when words fall short. So much care given in hospitals and GPs' surgeries is non-verbal, but how do we talk about and pass on expertise that lacks a lexicon? Ian introduces an NHS tribute poem, a brand new commission for The Verb from nurse Molly Case, and contributions from surgeon Professor Roger Kneebone (who collaborates with experts outside medicine e.g. chefs, magicians, musicians), puppeteer and dramaturg Rachel Warr, drummer and poet Antosh Wojcik and from our spoken word curator Hollie McNish.
06/07/201853 minutes 59 seconds
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Northern Rocks

The Verb explores the language and literature inspired by northern rocks - with Benjamin Myers, Bella Hardy, M. John Harrison, Kate Davis and Simon Bainbridge.
29/06/201848 minutes 50 seconds
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The Verb at the Hay Festival.

Ian McMillan talks resilience in the BBC Tent with The Last Poets, Michael Morpurgo, Daniel Morden and Helen Mort Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen.
01/06/201847 minutes 16 seconds
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The Festival Verb

Ian McMillan peers into the pop-up tent that is 'festival' writing with Murray Lachlan Young - he introduces new fiction from Louise Welsh, new poetry from William Letford and Hollie McNish joins the programme to explore, in conversation with Dr Peter Mackay, the kind of festive language and rituals associated with Scots Gaelic literature. Ian is also joined by Professor Sarah Churchwell to unpick the language of the great American novelist Philip Roth - who died this week - and to celebrate not only the meaning, but the sound and texture of Roth's sentences. Roth's best-known novels include the darkly comic 'Portnoy's Complaint' and the Pulitzer Prize winning 'American Pastoral'.
25/05/201854 minutes 12 seconds
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Autism: poetry, language and writing

Examining autism, and the experience of being autistic through comedy, poetry, fiction and footnotes with guests Henry Normal, James McGrath, Kate Fox, and Alicia Kopf. Producer: Faith Lawrence Presenter: Ian McMillan.
04/05/201850 minutes 3 seconds
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Night Meetings - Japan

Ian McMillan and guests explore Japanese night-time language, poetic encounters and musical collisions - and uncanny meetings that happen in the dark. The programme is part of Radio 3's 'Night Blossoms' - a week exploring the unexpected, the shadows and the counter-cultural in Japanese music and arts. Producer: Faith Lawrence Presenter: Ian McMillan.
27/04/201855 minutes 9 seconds
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Can algorithms help writers think more clearly and create innovative work ? On this week's 'Algorithm Verb' Ian McMillan is joined by Helen Arney, who performs a brand new love-song (written for the programme) using search engine algorithms, by Eugenia Cheng, a mathematician and pianist who is passionate about ridding the world of 'math-phobia', by the computer scientist Ursula Martin (who writes on Ada Lovelace, often credited with the first computer 'algorithm'), and by writer Kate Pullinger who is fascinated by the potential of algorithms to make stories more haunting and personal. Verb regular, poet Ira Lightman 'becomes' a living algorithm lurking in the substrata of the programme, and creates an algorithmic villanelle. Producer: Faith Lawrence Presenter: Ian McMillan.
20/04/201843 minutes 28 seconds
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Writing and Psychoanalysis

The writer and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips is the author of 'On Kindness', and 'On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored' amongst other works of non-fiction. He is also a regular contributor to the London Review of Books. Adam invited The Verb into his west-London consulting room to discuss the rules and significance of Freud's concept of 'free association', the importance of inconclusive conclusions and what he sees as the lopsided relationship between poetry and psychoanalysis - something he explores in his new book 'In Writing: Essays on Literature' (Hamish Hamilton). AL Kennedy is a writer and stand-up comedian - for The Verb she explores the importance of 'no' in conversation and in writing, the illusion of spontaneity in comedy and the reasons why Meg, one of the characters in her latest novel 'Serious Sweet' (Vintage), is sceptical of 'talking cures'. AL Kennedy won the Costa Book of the Year award in 2007 for 'Day'. Rachel Parris and Amy Cooke-Hodgson are part of 'Austentatious
30/03/201844 minutes 1 second
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The Local Verb

This week on the verb we are turning our attention to Local language. Joining Ian McMillan are the linguist Rob Drummond who has been studying Manchester Voices and identifying new youth dialects, the Icelandic stand up comedian Ari Eldjárn on performing comedy in a city where everyone really does know everyone else and the novelist Sarah Hall discusses how she crafts specificity of place in her writing. Also joining Ian is Verb regular Hollie McNish who will be introducing us to Vanessa Kisuule, who has jut been announced as Bristol's Poet Laureate. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright.
02/03/201847 minutes 53 seconds
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Notes on The Verb

Taking notes with Ian are Toby Litt and Jude Rogers. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright.
23/02/201847 minutes 45 seconds
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The Verb on Return

This week we're looking the possibilities of looking back. Joining Ian McMillan are... Novelist and essayist Tim Winton has been twice shortlisted for the Booker prize for his novels 'The Riders' and 'Dirt Music'. In his most recent book, 'The Boy Behind the Curtain', he returns to his childhood. The comedian Stewart Lee has honed the art of the callback over a long career writing for television and radio alongside his stand-up touring schedule. Angie Hobbs is the Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. It's been many years since she's read Milan Kundera's cult classic 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', and we've asked her to return to the text. Bea Roberts wrote and performed 'Infinity Pool', a modern retelling of Madame Bovary and a hit at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. For The Verb, we've asked her to tackle the language of the Tripadvisor review. Producer: Faith Lawrence First broadcast May 2017.
16/02/201844 minutes 43 seconds
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Fighting Talk

How do you write a fight? Ian McMillan and Hollie McNish are joined by Ross Sutherland, Ben Crystal, Willy Vlautin and Theresa Lola to talk about punching with a pen. Willy Vlautin is an American novelist and musician. He is the lead singer for Richmond Fontaine, and his latest novel 'Don't Skip out on Me' (Faber), follows a young man who dreams of being a championship boxer. The poet Ross Sutherland has written a brand new commission for The Verb inspired by the Jackie Chan film 'Rumble in the Bronx' Hollie McNish introduces Theresa Lola, a British Nigerian poet and workshop facilitator. Based in London, Theresa hosts 'The Rhythm And Poetry Party', an evening of hip-hop-inspired poems and hip-hop song. The Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal explains how to bring alive a fight scene from page to stage, showing us how the seeds of physical combat are often sown into the fabric of the play without us necessarily knowing. Producer: Cecile Wright Presenter: Ian McMillan.
02/02/201844 minutes 56 seconds
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The Wellbeing Verb

January is a month of resolutions and fresh starts, of gyms and diets. This week Ian McMillan and guests tackle the language of Wellbeing and Self-Care. Poets are not generally known for their physical prowess, but in George Szirtes new collection 'Thirty Poets Go To The Gym' (Candlestick). What happens when famous poets from Lord Byron to John Berryman and from Emily Dickinson to Elizabeth Bishop try to get into shape? What are the strongest influences on the ways we chose to live our lives? Does taking care of someone meaning letting them take care of themselves? These issues are at the heart of Kendall Feaver's new play 'The Almighty Sometimes', starring Julie Hesmondhalgh. Julie discusses her role with Ian, and also examines what wellbeing means to an actor. The poet Melissa Lee-Houghton won the Somerset Maugham Award for her debut collection 'Sunshine' (Penned in the Margins), an intensely personal collection dealing with her experience of abuse, addiction and mental health iss
26/01/201848 minutes 20 seconds
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Kerry Andrew, Danez Smith, Hollie McNish and Jenni Fagan

Ian McMillan and Hollie McNish present the best in new poetry. Joining them this week are Remi Adefesysian, Jenni Fagan, Kerry Andrew and Danez Smith Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright.
19/01/201849 minutes 39 seconds
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Lord Fox, David Crystal and Jenny Colgan

On the programme this week, linguist David Crystal is looking at pronunciation - what does is mean to have a 'friendly accent'? Inspired by David's writing is a brand new poem from Mike Garry which plays with 'Approximants' - consonants that sound like vowels and are often seen as being friendly. In 'Spandex and the City' (Orbit), novelist Jenny Colgan finds out what happens when a romantic heroine meets a superhero, and we hear an extract from 'Lord Fox', a collaboration between the writer Kirsty Logan, harpist Esther Swift and songwriter Kirsty Law Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Cecile Wright.
12/01/201849 minutes 59 seconds
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Chest of Drawers

The Verb welcomes January's fresh starts and clear-outs with poems on empty drawers and new beginnings. Ron Padgett, Hollie McNish, Laurie Bolger, Lennox Cato and Harry Giles join Ian McMillan.
05/01/201849 minutes 13 seconds
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The Verb's 'Out of this World' Christmas Special

Joining Ian McMillan for a sci-fi themed Christmas party are Carol Ann Duffy, Hollie McNish, Abandoman, Paul Magrs, Katy Manning and Verb New Voice Laura Potts. Recorded in front of a studio audience at Media City.
29/12/201752 minutes 7 seconds
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The Scrolling Verb

How has the scrolling we do on social media changed writers and readers, and what does it have in common with ancient scrolls? Join Ian McMillan as he uses the power of poetry and performance to answer these questions - with the actor and writer David Schneider, poet Ira Lightman, artist Vicki Bennett, and scroll unrollers Roberta Mazza and Richard Gameson.
08/12/201749 minutes 10 seconds
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How do you choose a mentor?

This week on The Verb we're looking at writing mentors. How much different can a mentor make, how can we learn from their writing, and what kind of language should a mentor use? Joining Ian is the comedian Margaret Cho, who was profoundly influenced by her friend and mentor Joan Rivers. Margaret is a groundbreaking American comic who has been Emmy and Grammy nominated five times, hosts the podcast 'Monsters of Talk' and is currently on tour with her latest stand-up show 'Fresh Off The Boat'. Tim X Atack is a composer and sound designer who works across film, music and theatre; we commissioned him to create a audio piece inspired by the classical myth of Mentor and Athena. The award winning poet Sarah Howe explores mentoring in the world of poetry. This week Hollie McNish introduces us to the poetry of Rosy Carrick - who has been influenced by the Russian poet Mayakovsky. Producer: Faith Lawrence.
01/12/201749 minutes 17 seconds
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The Verb Celebrates 35 Years of Spoken Word

Ian McMillan presents a special extended edition of Radio 3's The Verb recorded as part of Contains Strong Language, a season of poetry and performance from Hull, UK City of Culture 2017. Ian McMillan is joined by a host of spoken word talent to celebrate the story of spoken-word performance in the UK on the 35th anniversary of 'Apples and Snakes'. John Agard has been performing spoken word across the UK for over 30 years. His poem celebrates the Voice as he reminds us that 'Shakespeare was a performance poet'. Hannah Silva is an innovative playwright and performer, who presents a brand new poem. In this piece, specially commissioned by Apples and Snakes to celebrate their 35th anniversary, Hannah digs around in their archives to find poetic inspiration. The Verb has also commissioned new work, a collaborative piece by SLAMbassadors UK founder Joelle Taylor and Zena Edwards. 'I remember you' examines the political history of spoken word. We also hear from Grace Nichols who brings a
24/11/20171 hour 42 minutes 15 seconds
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The Stoic Verb

What does it mean to live a Stoic life in 2017? With the current resurgence of interest in Stoic ideas,, The Verb investigates. Helping Ian is the philosopher Angie Hobbs, technology writer Tom Chatfield, Coralie Bickford Smith, Ned Boulting and John Osborne. Producer: Faith Lawrence.
10/11/201748 minutes 28 seconds
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The Tense Verb

Philip Pullman, Hollie McNish, Francesca Martinez and David Denison join Ian McMillan A masterclass in using 'tense' for writers. Philip Pullman, author of the 'His Dark Materials' series, explains why the fashion for the present tense can limit writers of fiction and celebrates the 'classical tone' of Philippa Pearce. Francesca Martinez delights in the present tense of comedy, whilst Hollie McNish introduces Erin Fornoff and her poem of 'back and forth' tenses. Linguist David Denison reveals how the 'simple present' tense in English is being 'marginalised' by the progressive. We're loving it.
03/11/201749 minutes 21 seconds
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Tim Minchin

Comedian, songwriter, lyricist and composer Tim Minchin sits down at the piano for a special programme - an extended conversation with Ian McMillan. Over 45 minutes they discuss the influences on his language, exploring the writing process behind the music and lyrics from his acclaimed musicals (the Tony award winning 'Matilda' and the more recent 'Groundhog Day'), and the pleasure he takes in letting the sounds of word lead his writing in his comic songs. He also talks about publishing his first children's book, 'When I Grow Up' (Scholastic), inspired by the hit song from Matilda, and illustrated by Steve Antony, and explains how pictures can play a similar role to music. Ian and Tim discuss his fascination with the clash (particularly in satirical songs) of content and form, and 'the balance between dark and light' elements. For Tim, the satisfaction of song-writing is similar to that of solving puzzle, particularly when he plays with the effect of internal rhyme. He also consider
27/10/201748 minutes 20 seconds
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The Society of the Spectacle

It's fifty years since the publication of 'The Society of the Spectacle' by the French writer and situationist Guy Debord. It's a book which continues to inspire artists and writers. Novelist Will Self argues that 'Never before has Debord's work seemed quite as relevant as it does now, in the permanent present that he so accurately foretold'. In this programme Will joins Ian McMillan, along with artist Paul Harfleet and writer Nick Harkaway to consider the idea of 'the spectacle', and, in the first of a new Verb series, Hollie McNish introduces new poetry from Keisha Thompson.
20/10/201744 minutes 44 seconds
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The Memory Verb

Ian McMillan presents a 'memorisable' cabaret of the word. Acclaimed biographer, historian and critic Jenny Uglow celebrates the language and rhymes of one of the most memorable poets in the English language, the 19th century artist and creator of nonsense rhymes Edward Lear. Rachel Parris and Amy Cooke-Hodgson are our improvisation 'queens' - they have worked together in award-winning improvisational theatre company 'Austentatious', and bravely take on an extreme memory challenge (inspired by Lear's poem 'The Owl and the Pussycat'). Martin Bommas from the University of Birmingham explores the importance of memory to the Ancient Egyptians (especially mummies ), and one of our best loved actors, Julian Glover, considers the role of memory and discusses strategies for remembering in the theatre. Part of Radio 3's weekend of programming in partnership with Wellcome Collection: 'Why Music? The Key to Memory'.
13/10/201747 minutes 55 seconds
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The Verb at the Contains Strong Language Festival of poetry and performance

Ian McMillan presents The Verb , Radio 3's cabaret of the spoken word with a host of international poets from Latvia, America and Poland, including Michael Dickman, Bodhan Piasecki and Orbita. Ian also explores the Trinidad Talking Doorsteps project with Joe Hakim . Recorded in front of a studio audience as part of Contains Strong Language, a season of Poetry and Performance from Hull. Producer: Faith Lawrence.
06/10/201744 minutes 12 seconds
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The Verb Live from Contains Strong Language

Ian McMillan presents Radio 3's The Verb broadcasting live from Contains Strong Language, a season of Poetry and Performance from Hull, with a look at the poetry inspired by the city, including the 2017 new ' washing line' poems with Dean Wilson and Vicky Foster, and Imtiaz Dharker's new piece for the JoinedUp dance company.
29/09/201746 minutes 45 seconds