Monday, 29 June 2009


I know I'm not the first blogger to respond enthusiastically to the BBC's superb series of programmes on poets and poetry, but could not resist adding my voice to the chorus of approval.

Thanks to modern technology, I recorded several of these broadcasts and have been watching them when time has permitted. The T.S. Eliot programme was unimpeachable in its detail, scope and balance, including a frank and fair investigation of the poet's attitude to Jews and Judaism. Among the sections I found particularly enjoyable, however, were those depicting Ezra Pound, who radiated intelligence and an eccentricity bordering on personality disorder with every word and gesture. I hadn't realised how indebted we are to Pound for the version of The Wasteland with which we are familiar. Still waiting in an electronic pigeonhole is the Louis MacNeice programme, which I am eagerly anticipating. For me MacNeice is a prime example of an under-celebrated writer, and it is largely thanks to his being set on my A-Level English Literature paper that I came to his work when I did. MacNeice wrote one of my favourite poems, The Sunlight on the Garden, a poignant, elegant and beautifully crafted celebration of the limitations and potential of human existence.

I was very glad to read in the trade press that the series had translated into enhanced -in some cases massively so - sales of poetry through bookshops, which is heartening in an age when poetry sections in bookshops are shrinking dramatically and are dominated by a miserly and unimaginative offering of bland anthologies and set texts.


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