The Verb

The Verb

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166 Episodes
Radio 3's cabaret of the word, featuring the best poetry, new writing and performance
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166 Episodes

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 Blain, who also gives us an insight into the narrative possibilities computer games can offer us. Our 'Something New' this week comes from poet Will Harris. and our Something Old Archive recording is Adrian Henri reading ‘She Loves me’ Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen

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 Master' in 2020 and later this year will see publication of his latest collection 'The Slain Birds'. Together they talk about form, trees, writers block, the passing of time and the joy of grandchildren. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen

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

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

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 and Uz. Anthony Joseph has been on a quest to learn more about a father he describes as largely absent. The result is "Sonnets for Albert", which explores the sonnet form yet infuses it with calypso and the natural delivery of his father's voice. Anthony performs his poem "Rings" for us. And Edmund Finnis tells us about Out of the Dawn's Mind, currently touring with the Soprano Ruby Hughes. He describes the challenge, not of capturing music on the page, but of travelling in the other direction, and bringing five poems of Alice Oswald from the page to musical life. Presented by Ian McMillan Produced by Kevin Core

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

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 National Poet of Wales.

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


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 the streets of Limehouse in search of traces of London's first Chinatown. Our 'Something Old, Something New commission this week comes from Sarah Howe, whose debut collection 'Loop of Jade' won the TS Eliot prize. Presenter: Ian McMillan Producer: Jessica Treen

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 mar...

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