The Echo Chamber


0101The Body2013022420130302

A new programme introduced by Paul Farley featuring the best of poetry now. The first in the series looks at the body in question - the shapes of poems and the people in them. How does a poet decide on the form of their poem? What do different poetic forms do the subject of a poem? The programme travels the country and anatomises its poetic body. With found poems and field-notes, a diary of failure and success, the sound of the world being taken down in rhyme, and a look into a hive of dead bees in midwinter. With new poems from Sean Borodale, Don Paterson and Alice Oswald. Producer: Tim Dee

0102Borders Met And Crossed2013030320130309

Adventures in strong language - performed and from the page - introduced by a master of poetic ceremonies, Paul Farley. Borders - met and crossed - are the theme of the day. The River Styx where the dead arrive and the shape-shifting places where people become other animals are among the subjects. Jo Shapcott, James Lasdun and Simon Armitage come to the edge and shout their poems across. Producer: Tim Dee


Adventures in strong language - the best of new poetry introduced by Paul Farley. The Echo Chamber has started to resound. Today it is listening to translations of all sorts and hoping to topple the Tower of Babel. Can you transplant a poem from one language to another? Can a man be a woman? A fox a thought? Featuring new poems by Robin Robertson, Leontia Flynn, and Jamie McKendrick and poems journeying into English from Ancient Greece, Rome, Italy, Spanish and German. Producer: Tim Dee

0104 LASTMiddle Age2013031720130323

Are the middle years tough for poets? Paul Farley listens to new poems on the subject. With Paul Muldoon, Kathleen Jamie and Hugo Williams. Producer: Tim Dee

0201Ancient Poem Kidnap2013110320131109

Lavinia Greenlaw and Simon Armitage have kidnapped three ancient poems and made them new.

Paul Farley returns with a new series showcasing the best of the latest poetry. Lavinia Greenlaw and Simon Armitage have been kidnapping three ancient poems and making them new, dub genius King Tubby has been remixing Dylan Thomas and Kaiti Soultana has taken Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to heart. Producer: Tim Dee.

0202City Streets And Seashores2013111020131116

Paul Farley meets Roy Fisher and Michael Longley: two of the greatest older poets at work in English today. City streets and the seashore sing loud in their poems. Roy Fisher's long sequence City about Birmingham is the best poetic account of modern urban life. Michael Longley has been writing lyric poems about a short stretch of the coastline of County Mayo for decades. Producer: Tim Dee.

Paul Farley meets poets Roy Fisher and Michael Longley

0203The Waste Remains2013111720131123

Paul Farley introduces new poems on the old theme of autumnal rot and mulch. New poems from Alice Oswald, Steve Ely, Maurice Riordan, Frances Leviston and a first British listening in on the American poet Robert Wrigley: a master observer of roadkill. Producer: Tim Dee.

Paul Farley introduces new poems on the old theme of autumnal rot and mulch.

0204 LASTThe Poet, The Poem, And The Savannah2013112420131130

Paul Farley talks to Glyn Maxwell about where poems come from.

Paul Farley in discussion with Glyn Maxwell, poet and author of On Poetry. White, Black, Form, Pulse, Chime, Space and Time are Glyn's chapter titles. How and why are poems written? With readings by Glyn of his own work, new and old. Producer: Tim Dee

Paul Farley brings more contemporary poets into the Echo Chamber to read and discuss their work.

0301Derek Walcott2014040620140412

Paul Farley returns with Radio 4's new poetry programme. Today's edition is devoted to a conversation (with poems and flying fish) with Derek Walcott at home on St Lucia. Walcott is now 84. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. The tropical island of St Lucia has been his home and has defined his work for many years yet he is reluctant to think of himself as a Caribbean poet. His work has travelled far away from his home and his own relationship with St Lucia has been rich but not entirely comfortable. He talks about why and speaks also of his love for the English poets, John Clare and Edward Thomas, whilst, looking out over the Caribbean sea, he recites Walter de la Mare. Producer: Tim Dee.

0302Jen Hadfield On Shetland2014041320140419

Paul Farley meets the poet Jen Hadfield at home and out and about in Shetland taking some of her new poems from her book Byssus back to where they were written, their source. Byssus is the name given to a mussel's beard, it is what anchors the shellfish to its rock. Many poems in the book explore both molluscs and bivalves but also what a home might mean to other creatures including poets. Half the poems need wellington boots, the others a good raincoat, but the Spring is here too and life grows afresh. Producer: Tim Dee.


In Belfast, Paul Farley and fellow poets remember Seamus Heaney six months after his death. With contributions from Michael Longley, Don Paterson, Leontia Flynn and Ciaran Carson. Producer: Tim Dee.

0304 LASTCross-dressing Poets2014042720140503

Paul Farley asks some poets, Kate Clanchy Adam Foulds and Patrick McGuinness, about their trafficking in prose. What does moving from one to the other do to each? Meanwhile the artist Richard Long reads some of his walks in words. Producer: Tim Dee.

0401Extinctions2014113020141206 (R4)

Paul Farley listens to old and new poetry of extinction one hundred years after the death of Martha, the last ever passenger pigeon. With poems from Fleur Adcock, Sean O'Brien, W.S. Merwin and David Harsent and the sounds of X-ray audio, the samizdat music of the Soviet Union that used black-market plates of skulls and ribcages to capture the beginnings of rock and roll. Producer: Tim Dee.

Paul Farley listens to old and new poetry of extinction.

0402The Knowledge2014120720141213 (R4)

Paul Farley does the Knowledge, collecting taxi poems and sounds from all over London.

Paul Farley does the Knowledge, collecting taxi poems and sounds from all over London. Including poems by John Challis, Sean O'Brien and David Harsent and songs, prose texts and other performances from a recent series of art events held in the capital's surviving cabbies shelters. Producer: Tim Dee.

0403Michael Donaghy2014121420141220 (R4)

Paul Farley remembers the poet Michael Donaghy with other poets, ten years after his death

Paul Farley remembers the poet Michael Donaghy with other poets ten years after his death. Greta Stoddart, Sean O'Brien and Don Paterson read his poems and read poems of their own that speak to their memory of the poet and teacher. Producer: Tim Dee.

0404 LASTSolsticial20141221

Paul Farley introduces a new poem called Tithonus for the year's midnight from Alice Oswald - a poem which lasts as long as dawn - and with music from nykelharpist Griselda Sanderson. Producer: Tim Dee

0501Clive James20150802

talks to Paul Farley and reads his new staring-death-in-the-face poems. The Echo Chamber returns with new poems on the old subjects. Clive James has been a poet throughout his life as well as a literary critic, memoirist and television pundit. He didn't expect to be alive to see his new collection Sentenced to Life after illness and old age took him in their grip a couple of years ago. But, against the odds, he's still with us. And his recent poems are extraordinarily clear-eyed and fearlessly moving. He manages to be light throughout whilst remaining, as one critic put it, deadly serious. Producer: Tim Dee

0503Mark Doty And Andrew Mcmillan2015081620150822 (R4)

Paul Farley listens for ghosts and feels for flesh with Mark Doty and Andrew McMillan.

Paul Farley listens for ghosts and feels for flesh in the new poems of Mark Doty and Andrew McMillan. Among the subjects are baby mammoths and men working on their muscles in gyms. The body and absent bodies bring a veteran American poet and a young newcomer together across the Atlantic. Prodcuer: Tim Dee.

0504 LASTTony Harrison2015082320150829 (R4)

Paul Farley hears Tony Harrison read his new poem Polygons.

Paul Farley hears Tony Harrison read a new long poem called Polygons - a poem set in Delphi in Greece, that richly draws together many of the poetic preoccupations of his life: Greek tragedy, the wild landscapes of ancient human sacred sites, the deaths and passing of poetic mates, and the comforts of water and of wine. Producer: Tim Dee.

0601James Fenton20151213

Paul Farley meets the poet James Fenton who has, in his varied life, also been a war reporter, a gardener and and a lyricist. He has just received the 2015 Pen Pinter prize for his writing. His poems of exile, emigration and conflict written over forty years of travelling into assorted bad lands remain extraordinarily telling documents. Producer: Tim Dee.

0602Kathleen Jamie2016010320160109 (R4)

2014 was a momentous year in Scotland. The poet Kathleen Jamie decided to keep a poetic diary and wrote a poem each week. The poems have just been published in a collection called The Bonniest Companie. She shares some of them with Paul Farley. Producer: Tim Dee.

0603Sam Riviere And Emily Berry2015122720160102 (R4)

Paul Farley hears new poems from two new poets, Sam Riviere and Emily Berry. Producer: Tim Dee.

0604 LASTWendy Cope And Lachlan Mackinnon20151220

Paul Farley hears new poems from Wendy Cope and Lachlan Mackinnon at their home in Ely. Since 'Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis', her first collection, was published in 1986, Wendy Cope has been among the most popular of poets in Britain and her poems have lent ideas to the national imagination. Her husband, Lachlan Mackinnon, has published four highly regarded collections too and is a great poet of love and loss as well as being as funny as his wife. Producer: Tim Dee

0701Simon Armitage In The Somme2016062620160702 (R4)

New poems by Simon Armitage inspired by the battle of the Somme.

One hundred years after the beginning of the catastrophic battle of the Somme, Paul Farley crosses the battlefield in north-eastern France with Simon Armitage to hear his new poems inspired by wartime aerial photographs of the area and Virgil's ancient Georgics (quasi-didactic texts on good land use and husbandry). Taking these new poems back to their source involves travelling along an old Roman road that runs through open farmland. One hundred years ago a paltry mile or two along this road were the scene of horrendous carnage as British and Allied troops attempted to attack and overrun the German lines. Months after the battle began in July 1916 only a mile or so of ground had been won. An appalling price had been paid. In one of the many wartime cemeteries now chequering the French farmland is the grave of a William Shakespeare. Many others and much else died in those months and Simon Armitage and the Echo Chamber have been to listen. His poem sequence is called 'Still' and was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK's arts programme for the First World War centenary, the Writer's Centre Norwich, and Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

0702Sharon Olds2016070320160709 (R4)

In New York City Paul Farley hears some new odes from Sharon Olds addressed to bodies and body parts, both shoddy and enduring. Sharon Olds' poetry is almost always personal and is renowned for its frank directness. She has written unflinchingly about abuse in her family and her broken marriage. Much imitated and highly influential no one compares to her. She reads her new poems about her hymen, and her wattles, a composting toilet, and the tampon. Producer: Tim Dee.

0703Craig Raine2016071020160716 (R4)

Paul Farley meets Craig Raine at his home to hear new and old poems from a famous Martian.

Paul Farley meets Craig Raine at his home to hear new and old poems from a famous Martian. 'A Martian Sends A Postcard Home' (1979) was Craig Raine's second collection and its poems defined and encapsulated a way of looking afresh at the familiar world. Since then Raine has taught English literature, written novels, edited Fabers' poetry list and started and run magazines of criticism and new writing. He has written poetry throughout. 'How Snow Falls' appeared in 2010 and this year he has published a book on the writing and reading of poetry called 'My Grandmother's Glass Eye'. He talks about arguing about poetry and reads a suite of new poems as well as some old ones. Producer: Tim Dee.

0704 LASTTracy K Smith And Patricia Lockwood2016071720160723 (R4)

Paul Farley hears from two young American poets: Tracy K Smith and Patricia Lockwood.

Paul Farley hears new work from two young American poets: Tracy K. Smith and Patricia Lockwood. Outside of a few famous names recent British poetry has made little impact on American life and letters. The same might be said in reverse: though we speak the same language our poetries are oddly discrete. The Echo Chamber has opened its doors in the USA to seek some commonality by listening to some younger female American voices. Tracy K. Smith's book 'Life on Mars' won a Pulitzer Prize for her poems about space and race and David Bowie. Patricia Lockwood's writing-life on Twitter is watched from around the world and her 'sexts' and her 'Rape Joke' poem brought her a celebrity very rare in poetry. Both poets read from their ground-breaking books and share some new poems too. Producer: Tim Dee.

0801Matthew Hollis And Fiona Sampson2016120420161210 (R4)

Stones - a new long poem from Matthew Hollis and new watery work from Fiona Sampson. Paul Farley is all ears. Producer: Tim Dee.

Paul Farley hears new poems from Matthew Hollis and Fiona Sampson.

0802Daisy Fried And Brenda Shaughnessy2016121120161217 (R4)

A mix-tape of new poems from two American poets: Daisy Fried and Brenda Shaughnessy. Paul Farley presses play and record. Producer: Tim Dee.

A mix-tape of new poems from two American poets: Daisy Fried and Brenda Shaughnessy.

0803Tom Pickard And Denise Riley20170101

New year, new poems, veteran poets: Tom Pickard and Denise Riley. Paul Farley opens up the Echo Chamber. Producer: Tim Dee